5 hope to unseat Lipinski in 3rd district

January 30, 2008 4:45:13 PM PST
One of the key congressional races on the ballot in next Tuesday's Illinois primary is in the 3rd district.It covers some west and southwest suburbs and a small part of Chicago.

The 3rd congressional district includes some of the southwest suburbs along the I-55 Corridor. The district has a history of voting Democratic. Now, the incumbent Democrat is being challenged by three Democrats and two Republicans.

Congressman Dan Lipinski has held the 3rd district seat for two terms. He is the son of former Congressman William Lipinski, who helped hastily arrange for his son to be the Democratic nominee in 2004. Congressman Lipinski says regardless of the start, his record stands for itself, including an energy bill that requires federal buildings to use energy-efficient light bulbs.

"Well, no one can be appointed to Congress," said U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, (D) 3rd District Candidate. "I ran in 2004 and was elected and was re-elected again in 2006. And I just ask the voters to look at my record of what I've accomplished. And I'm very happy about what I've been able to do for the people of the 3rd district."

Other Democrats, such as Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett, are critical of Lipinski's record. Bennett has spent his adult life in the district.

"I went around the district and talked to other mayors, talked to other public officials and he was really a no-show," he said of Lipinski. "He's out of touch. And if you are out of touch, you certainly don't understand the issues, and you can't solve problems."

Mark Pera is a Cook County assistant state's attorney who opposes the war in Iraq and is looking to unseat Lipinski.

"I think the district really deserves someone who reflects their views and their values," said Pera. "We have a current congressman right now that on many issues votes with George Bush and the Republicans, and I think the district deserves someone who is a mainstream Democrat, who stands for many of the issues that the Democrats in the district support."

Rounding out the Democrats is Jim Capparelli, an attorney with a an extensive military background and calls himself a "neighborhood guy."

"I think the people of the 3rd congressional district certainly deserve better representation than they are getting right now," he said.

On the Republican side, there are two candidates. Art Jones is a health insurance broker who was once a member of a white supremacist organization.

"Basically, this county is a Christian country," Jones said. "We have these so-called politically correct and hate crime laws and politically correct philosophy that you can't say this and you can't say that. It's going to offend this group, it's going to offend that group. Tough! This is a Christian country, and the morals should reflect the Christian beliefs of the majority of the people of this country."

Michael Hawkins is the other Republican running for the 3rd congressional seat. He's a real estate broker who proposes abolishing income tax for state administered sales tax.

"I feel I'm the one who would best represent those people," Hawkins said. "I'm open and honest. I think that everybody that has something that's going on in the district could come to the office? to ask me what I could do. And I think I have the ability to help with their problem."

The Republican candidates participated in a discussion on WTTW-TV this week, where Hawkins referred to Jones as evil, and Jones said it was unfair to bring up his connection to a white supremacy group 20 years ago.