Fred Smith Gulf War Veteran in Election Run Against US Representative Bobby Rush 1st CD


Incumbent Rush Challenged by Three in 1st District (Bronzeville)
January 28, 2010
By Susan S. Stevens

Bobby Rush The 1st Congressional District, which forks from Bronzeville to the southwest suburbs, has incumbent U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush being challenged by three opponents: Fred Smith, Harold Bailey, and Joanne Guillemette.

Bobby Rush has represented the district since 1992, voting predominantly the liberal line. He also is the founder and senior pastor at Beloved Community Christian Church at 64th Street and Harvard Avenue. Rush, now 63, had surgery in 2008 to remove a malignant tumor from his salivary gland. A spokeswoman said he is “cancer-free and in very good health.” He lives in Bronzeville.

He is proud of shepherding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 through to adoption. Rush has sponsored or co-sponsored more than 30 gun control measures since his son was murdered in 1999. In December, he sponsored a measure to establish a minority business development program to provide loan guarantees and other aid to businesses.

He is chairman of the Committee on Energy and of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. He also is on the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet and is a co-chair of the Congressional Biotech Caucus.

Rush also is the only person to beat Barack Obama in an election — the 2000 Democratic primary for Congress. Rush supported Obama in 2008 over Hillary Clinton. Rush rose to prominence as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Black Panther Party. He later returned to school and earned several degrees including an MA from McCormick Theological Seminary.

Harold Bailey, to run for Congress, took a leave of absence from his post as Central Region manager of the Chicago Park District, where he has worked for 16 years.

Rush “has lost touch with his constituents,” Bailey said. “There is a void, a lack of accessibility. People have to have access to elected officials. People want to know you are listening to them.”

Bailey said that, if elected, he will work constructively toward reducing violence. “I can’t take any more marches or teddy bears and balloons,” Bailey said, in reference to Rush’s involvement with community members marching with balloons and toys to bring attention to violence in the community.

“We can do a lot positively,” he said. “We bailed out banks; why not young people?”

He wants to use federal stimulus money to create jobs focusing on green training. “Green-collar initiatives could get current unemployed workers into jobs that not only will revitalize the middle class, but…make the economy ‘greener,’” Bailey said.

He also wants to increase funding for teachers and teacher training. He called for fuller funding of the No Child Left Behind Act and proposed additional funding for public and charter schools to fulfill the act’s original purpose. Regarding health care, Bailey promised if elected to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care. He said he will vote in favor of a single-payer and public option health care system to cover the underinsured and uninsured.

His resume includes work for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools. He grew up in the Washington Park housing development and now lives on the Southwest Side.

Fred Smith, program director at Maryville Academy, which he has worked for 14 years, believes he can bring more prosperity to the First Congressional District. After serving as a paratrooper during Operation Desert Storm, he worked at an agency that helps people overcome drug and alcohol addictions.

He does community service through the Grand Boulevard Federation Safety Net, Balance and Restorative Justice, the Promise Task Force, Fatherhood Initiatives, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Creating jobs is an important aspect of economic development,” Smith said. He wants to make sure the district receives its fair share of tax revenue from Washington to stop increases in property taxes and improve schools and infrastructure. He also wants to provide tax credits to companies that create jobs in the district and envisions creating green jobs, clean energy, and Internet technology.

To halt violence in the district, “I will advocate for the increasing of funding for after school programs, community service providers, and summer programs for our youth. This is an effort to get our youth off the streets and corners and in a more productive setting.”

He wants to find ways to ensure all Americans have access to health care, and he called for a single-payer and public option health care system to cover the underinsured and uninsured.

Smith grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes housing project and currently lives in Evergreen Park. Joanne Guillemette is an attorney who ran unsuccessfully for judge several times. Efforts to reach her have been unsuccessful.

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