Profile: Democratic 5th district candidates Part 2

February 26, 2009 2:41:33 PM PST
Whoever is elected as next congressman from Illinois' 5th congressional district will be dead last - number 435 on the seniority list in the U.S. House of Representatives.You can bet that person will also have a direct connection to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel vacated the 5th district seat to become president's Obama's chief of staff.

Twenty-two candidates are squaring off in a special primary to replace Emanuel in Congress.

On Wednesday, we profiled six Democrats in the race with fairly high name recognition. Now, we meet six more Democrats, each battling to break from the pack in this crowded race.

Illinois' 5th congressional district covers a wide region, from North Side Chicago neighborhoods on the lake to the northwest suburbs just south of O'Hare.

The district is diverse demographically as well. About 30 percent of its residents were born abroad.

Among the Democrats in this race is Frank Annunzio, who lists his top issues as Social Security solvency, immigration reform and veterans' affairs.

Annunzio is a great nephew of the late, longtime Chicago congressman of the same name. Through his post with the Chicago Housing Authority, he believes he has the expertise to bring dollars back to the district.

"Having overseen hundreds of millions of dollars of successful projects, I understand the inner workings of federal government planning and procurement," said Annunzio.

The troubled economy is a leading issue for most candidates, including ophthalmologist Paul Bryar. Bryar also lists corruption in politics as a top concern. He says problem-solving skills are a crucial job requirement.

"I solve problems as a doctor, that's what I do. And I want to tackle those issues and make hard decisions on the economy on healthcare and lead by example with some meaningful ethics reform," Bryar said.

Global marketing consultant Cary Capparelli lists homeland security, tax reform and healthcare reform as his top issues. Capparelli said he believes representation in the district has been too liberal for its population.

"For the past decade, the district has been dominated by those who have make the most noise, those with the most money, but not necessarily representing the majority of its population," Capparelli said.

Jan Donatelli is an airline pilot and union activist. Jobs, healthcare access and military and veteran's affairs are her primary issues. She touts her experience on the national stage.

"I'm the one candidate who has the life skills and the national experience. I've worked on the national level for 20 years, particularly in the labor movement," Donatelli said.

Economic and healthcare security are central to physician Victor Forys' message. Forys says he's built a record of public service among immigrant residents.

"I chose to work on Central Avenue not Michigan Avenue because I wanted to serve people like myself, people who came from foreign countries," Forys said. "Now I'm serving my community. I want to continue serving my community, only now in Washington."

Like Forys, psychiatrist Carlos Monteagudo said he believes his humble beginnings and service to under-served patients resonates with voters. Health, economic and global security are his top issues.

"I am the person on the stage today that has lived experiences of most of the issues that face the common person in this district," Monteagudo said. "It's how connected you are to the community, how much you are entrenched in communities that ultimately makes the difference."

Voters go the polls in this special primary election Tuesday March 3.

This is Part 2 of our four-part candidate profile series. Friday on ABC7 News at 4:30 and at abc7chicago.com, we'll profile the six Republicans in the race.


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