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Christine Cegelis : Hitting Her Stride
by Amy Wooten

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Pictured Judicial candidate Mary Colleen Roberts ( right ) and her partner Alison White. Photo by Terri Klinsky

After getting an unprecedented number of votes against 30-year incumbent Henry Hyde in 2004, Christine Cegelis is confident she can take the 6th Congressional District—an area that includes suburban towns such as Elk Grove Village, Elmhurst, Hanover Park, Addison and Wheaton.

Cegelis is a small business owner and IT consultant who lives and works in Rolling Meadows. A Democrat, she is openly against the war in Iraq, and has been from the get-go. With Hyde retiring, Cegelis is up against Iraq veteran Tammy Duckworth and Wheaton's Lindy Scott.

Windy City Times: In 2004, you earned an unprecedented 44.2 percent of the vote against Henry Hyde. Now you are up against Tammy Duckworth and Lindy Scott. What do you feel are your chances?

Christine Cegelis: Well, we're feeling really good because obviously over 21,000 people voted for me twice last time. And, of course, our primaries are very small out here. We don't think it will be more than 30-35,000 voters. So, we're feeling very good. We have a lot of ground support. A lot of people are out canvassing voters and making phone calls. Things are looking good.

WCT: What do you feel sets you apart from the other candidates?

CC: Well, I think it's my business background. One of the big issues out here right now is the loss of jobs, particularly to off-shoring—just the companies moving out of the area. Because I've been in IT and I've been in this business for over 30 years, I've worked with companies across the country as well as in Canada, Mexico and the U.K. I think people understand that I have a real handle on what's going on globally, and we need to create better jobs here in Illinois that can't be so easily off-shored.

WCT: Iraq has become one of the top issues in this race. What is your stance?

CC: We are an irritant there, and we need to have a plan for re-deploying our troops out of the area in a very short time frame.

WCT: Do you favor same-sex marriage?

CC: I think that we should not be discriminating against people based on their sexuality and gender orientation, and so I'm in favor of full civil rights.

WCT: And do you think it's up to the states to decide this?

CC: Well, I think it probably will go that way, and certainly that's how the states are doing it. It probably does work best like that, mainly because of the way marriage laws are written.

WCT: Are you in support of hate-crime legislation?

CC: Yes I am.

WCT: And since you are endorsed by NOW, you are definitely pro choice?

CC: Yes. I've been a NOW member since the 1970s.

WCT: What is your position on funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and education?

CC: Well, this is absolutely critical. Education is a very important piece that should be federally funded because obviously prevention is worth something, pending a cure. I don't believe we are educating our young people well enough on this. But I do feel we should be funding the medication, not just for a cure, but also in Africa and other places to stop this global epidemic.

WCT: And what other healthcare issues are you concerned about?

CC: Obviously for everyone, healthcare is an issue. Many people have lost their jobs here in the 6th District, and when they lose their jobs, they lose their healthcare. Many companies are finding that they cannot afford to offer healthcare as a benefit anymore. We need to move towards a single payer or—a better way to put it—an enhanced and expanded Medicare for all. That is economically the right choice for our country. It helps us be more competitive in the global economy, and it also provides healthcare at a lesser cost than we are paying right now.

WCT: What is your position on Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

CC: I think it's a bad policy for our military, and I think that our military shouldn't be allowed to discriminate, just as other companies don't discriminate.

WCT: What experience do you have in dealing with LGBT issues?

CC: I don't really have any experience as far as an elected official, because I've never been one, but obviously as anybody who has been throughout the community, these issues are part of everyday life, whether it's your neighbors or your friends or your co-workers. … I was working in the library industry … in the early '80s. I don't know if we were heavily hetero, more so or less. We certainly saw a lot of deaths because of HIV, and it was a huge impact on our little company because our company had less than 100 people and we had two people die of AIDS within a year. It really brought home the tragedy because it was such a small community to lose two people.

WCT: Are any members of your current staff, that you know of, openly gay?

CC: Not on my current staff. There were on my staff last cycle.

WCT: Is there anything else you like to add about gay issues?

CC: I'm looking forward to a time when we understand that this is an issue about civil rights, and that it doesn't become something that is even discussed. That we all agree that everyone is entitled to their civil rights.

WCT: Would you install a written policy in your office regarding sexual orientation and gender-identity discrimination?

CC: I certainly would install one.

WCT: Anything else you'd like to add about what you stand for and why people should vote for you?

CC: Because I am from this district and I spent the last two and a half years getting to know the issues of all the people of district—people raising children, people that are retired—that I would be the strongest voice for the people of my district in Washington because I live their life.

WCT: And isn't it true that Duckworth didn't even live in the district?

CC: She not only has not lived in the district, [ but ] she hasn't even been around this area for this long.

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