10th District candidates vow to fight for middle class

March 13, 2012 4:42:18 PM PDT
Four candidates are battling for the Democratic nomination in the 10th Congressional District.

The winner in the Illinois primary on March 20th will take on Republican Bob Dold in the fall.

The district covers many north and northwest suburban communities.

All four candidates call themselves progressive Democrats fighting for the middle class, although the field is as diverse as its district. Hoping for the opportunity to beat Dold in the fall is an Air Force colonel, a consultant, a lawyer and a former MoveOn.org organizer.

Ilya Sheyman is a Russian-born Jew who fled the former Soviet Union with his parents for the United States 20 years ago. The 25-year-old says he is running for Congress in the 10th District because the American dream his family experienced is slipping away.

"When Congress' approval rating is 9 percent I think we have a pretty clear sense that the old ideas are not working. What we've seen over the past year as we've built this campagn is a tremendous sense of energy and excitement for a fresh approach," said Sheyman.

While he says his youth is an asset, Sheyman is using old school politics by being the first of four Democratic candidates to take the campaign negative. Sheyman's target: 50-year-old Brad Schneider. Sheyman has criticized the Deerfield resident for making a handful of donations to Republican campaigns. Schneider, who is also Jewish, says those donations were for pro-Israel candidates.

"My advocacy for Israel, I'm proud of it. I'm not going to back away from it. But it doesn't make me a Republican. I'm a Democrat ... working hard for Democrats my entire life and I'll continue to work that way," said Schneider.

The remapped 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook County and now goes all the way up the Wisconsin border along the lake and stretches further into some of the northwest suburbs.

John Tree thinks his background makes him the best candidate to beat Republican Bob Dold in the fall. The 45-year-old is a colonel in the Air Force and has worked for big companies. Tree says he decided to run after last summer's debt ceiling controversy.

"I looked at the U.S. Congress and see an institution that has a 9 percent approval rating, that 91 Americans out of 100 don't like the job they're doing. I decided to get involved and oppose the tea party extremists who continue to threaten to shut the government down," said Tree.

Vivek Bavda wants to go to Congress to work on creating more jobs and opportunities for the middle class. The 34-year-old holds a master's and law degree and has a diverse work experience. Yet, Bavda found himself working at Macy's in 2009 when he couldn't find a job in his field.

"Things have just gotten so out of reach for the middle class, it's all about making nice, small improvements that give people a handup, not a handout," said Banda.

Bavda says he has the most diversified set of experiences. Besides Macy's, he has worked for big business, labor and the government.

Brad Schneider has released a 30-second TV ad defending himself against Ilya Sheyman's attacks.