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ELECTIONS 6th Dist. U.S. Rep. candidate Kelly Mazeski profile
by Matt Simonette

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Kelly Mazeski is among the several Democratic candidates vying March 20 to oppose incumbent Republican congressman Peter Roskam for the 6th District U.S. Representative's post in the November 2018 general election. Mazeski is running against Becky Anderson Wilkins, Sean Casten, Carole Cheney, Amanda Howland, Ryan Huffman and Jennifer Zordani.

Windy City Times: What prompted you to run?

Kelly Mazeski: I decided to run a year ago this month when I found out that Roskam was vulnerable. The issues that I cared about were under attack by him. One is health care. I'm a breast cancer survivor. I announced my campaign on the same day that he originally voted to have Americans pay more and get less, supporting the health bill by Republicans. So this was very troubling to me. I want to make sure that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care.

WCT: How have you gauged the district's overall response to Roskam's stances on health care? Have you been taking to a lot to constituents and what have you found out?

KZ: Oh yes. There are so many grassroots organizations out in the district. The number on thing that comes up is health care—there's no question about it. The majority of Americans do not support the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The fact that he has voted at least 30 times, I believe, to repeal it definitely makes him vulnerable.

WCT: What advantage do you see yourself as having over your opponents in the elections, and what's you biggest challenge?

KZ: My strength is that I have the strongest grassroots and institutional support. As a candidate, I turned in the most petition signatures to get my name on the ballot. I also have nearly 3,000 individual contributions to my campaign, and 82 percent of those contributions are from Illinois. I also have the endorsements of Emily's List, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and the Illinois Democratic Chairmen's Association. I've been very fortunate—there are other members of Congress and associations that support me as well, because they believe I'm the best candidate to beat Roskam in November.

I'm the only candidate who's walked the health care walk and who's a scientist, who's been a financial consultant and has been spending most of her adult life fighting to protect our environment. I have also had 18 years of experience in local government. That creates the greatest contrast to Roskam. When I did decide to run, the first thing I did do was put a team together that could go the distance against him. I have worked for a congresswoman, and I've worked on campaigns, so I knew what it would take to beat Peter Roskam.

As for challenge, I don't know. I think my biggest challenge is just winning the primary.

WCT: Just because of the crowded field?

KZ: Yes.

WCT: Could you speak specifically about how some of your past experiences could translate to success legislating on the federal level?

KZ: I have been a village trustee, a zoning commissioner and a plan commissioner. I'm still a plan commissioner where I live now. I got involved in local government not because I had aspirations for higher office, but because I was simply frustrated by some of the things that were going on in my own community. I learned how important it is to listen to constituents in my district, so I can vote with their best interests in mind. Listening is key and reaching across the aisle. A lot of times I'm the only Democrat in the room because I live in Barrington; it's fairly red. I've been doing this 18 years and I'm a solution-oriented leader, and the goal at the end of the day is to come up with solutions to problems that our communities face. I will hold town halls. Roskam hasn't held one in the last 11 years, and that is totally unacceptable.

WCT: You've already spoken about health care. What are some other issues that you'd want to tackle in Congress?

KZ: The second is the environment. I absolutely am committed to promoting a renewable energy economy here in the United States. I think it's a win-win situation, because not only does it combat climate change, but it's an opportunity to create thousands of staring middle-class jobs. I'm on the Illinois Environmental Council, and the executive director there is one of the people primarily responsible for passing the Future Energy Jobs Act here in Illinois. That's an excellent template for the rest off our country to follow.

Another thing I would like to tackle is the tax bill that the Republicans just passed. It totally written to enrich giant corporations over the middle class. The tax rates of giant corporations are permanent, while the ones for the middle class are temporary, and they're going to play out over time so that they result in a tax increase because of the way this plan is indexed to inflation. … I just strongly believe that the middle class and small businesses are the backbone of this country. They deserve the tax breaks, not the big corporations.

WCT: What kind of experiences or engagement have you had with people in the LGBT community?

KZ: I certainly know a lot of people in the LGBT community. I have to be frank, I haven't done a lot of work in the community, but I absolutely support equality and I know that everyone should have equal rights, regardless or your gender, sexual orientation, who you love or what your race is. I absolutely support equality for all.

WCT: What issues do you think are important for LGBT residents of the district?

KZ: I have been meeting with people about it. I have to tell you that I was shocked to learn that in 28 states you can still fire someone because of their sexual orientation. That is absolutely unacceptable. That has to change,

WCT: Would you be in favor of nationwide legislation offering protections against that then.

KZ: Absolutely, without question.

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