Hi, I'm Jim Ascot and I'm running in the Democratic Primary for U.S. Congress in Illinois' 7th District. I appreciate this opportunity to get to know you and believe that this is a great new forum for the advancement of progressive politics. I look forward to a spirited dialogue and hope that we can learn much from one another...
Let me begin by telling you about myself. I immigrated from Greece with my family when I was 9 years old. Not knowing English, my parents worked hard to make sure I had an education. They owned their own restaurant and toiled 24/7 to guarantee that my sister and I had the appropriate resources to succeed. Their work ethic was a trait that translated to me as something very special and I try to always maintain that ideal: by working hard and playing by the rules, you can be successful.
Early on in my education I received my BS and MA from Bradley and then went on to get my Ph.D. in psychology. I worked at Loretto Hospital in the 70s and 80s as a crisis specialist in the emergency room. I got a sense of what was going on in the neighborhoods, what the needs of the community were and the importance of bringing business to the area.
I now run a small commercial real estate brokerage firm in Chicago's West Loop. I've been doing that for the last 25 years, developing properties as well as selling and acquiring properties for other parties.
I'm not a career politician. I'm a small business owner who feels it is his turn to give back. I believe I know what we need in a representative. We need someone who understands the problems our whole District faces and knows what needs to be done.
The most important issue to me, the thing I will start working on the day I open my Washington office, is bringing jobs and financial security to the District. We need it badly: unemployment continues to rise, home foreclosures are up, and the city's infrastructure shows the signs of years of neglect.
With the stimulus package, President Obama and Congress have taken an important step towards fixing our country, but most of the money has yet to be allocated and $6 Billion still needs to be spent in Illinois. I will secure federal funding for where it's needed most: here in our schools, here in our homes, here in our businesses and here in our infrastructure.
We need to do something about the violence that plagues our neighborhoods. It's inexcusable. I am a firm believer that we must address the root of the problem. We need more police, but that alone won't solve anything. We need to invest in after-school and anti-violence programs to stop crime before it happens.
We must invest in the education of our children and empower them for the future. I will bring funding to the the District's schools so we can do right by our children and truly leave no child behind. We must build schools like the one the Austin community wants. And every student who wants to go to college should have that opportunity.
We need affordable housing. This is what I see: thousands in our district who need housing, vacant lots, unemployed workers and unspent stimulus funds. What we need to do is bring it all together: use those stimulus funds to pay workers to build affordable housing on the vacant lots.
We have to continue on the struggle towards a reformed health care system. If I were in Congress now, I would be one of the advocates for a single-payer system. Failing that, I support a government option to ensure that everyone is covered.
If elected, I pledge that I will do all these things to invest in every block and empower every person. I will hold regular meetings of the leaders in the District and my office will serve the community, bringing grants and dollars back to the District.
Thanks to all of you for reading and I welcome any comments that you might have. Please check out our Twitter and Facebook pages as well as our website to learn more about my campaign and the issues that are important to me.