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Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL-2) addressing the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association.
Rep. Robin Kelly was elected to the House of Representatives a little over a year ago, on April 9, 2013. Kelly's election was due in no small part to the significant early support from Markos "kos" Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, which was the "grassroots" tipping point in the campaign.

Markos raised over $140,000 from more than 6,000 individual donors that went directly to the Kelly campaign. Markos also supplied hundreds of "campaign ground troops" for Kelly, in support of her stance for stiffer gun control and her fight against the NRA.

Robin Kelly was elected to the United States House of Representatives, getting there via a special election held in the 2nd Illinois Congressional district due to the resignation of Jesse Jackson Jr. on Nov. 21, 2012.

Rep. Robin Kelly marked her one-year anniversary in Congress by giving an update of her time in office, addressing the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association in East Hazel Crest on Monday evening.

Kelly addressed a group of constituents, officials and business leaders, in discussing gun legislation, economic development on the South Side, Pullman, the South Suburban Airport, the Illiana Expressway and more.

Kelly made clear that her main priority is and always will be: constituents.

"From day one, my priorities in office have been two-fold: To fight for my constituent’s best interests in Washington and to provide the absolute best constituent services here at home," said Kelly. "My constituents come first."

Kelly has assembled one of the finest Congressional staffs committed to superior service to the district constituency. It is what Kelly demands from her staff. The district offices in Chicago, Matteson and Kankakee have provided thousands of hours of assistance to constituents. It has also helped veterans get the benefits they deserve, assisted homeowners with mortgage modification efforts, and helped seniors with their Medicare and Social Security claims.

"They (staff) are dedicated to helping our constituents. We’ve handled hundreds of cases in which we’ve helped residents do everything from getting their Social Security benefits to staving off foreclosure," said Kelly.

Kelly pointed out that she is committed to "all" parts of the district. "From families on the South Side to farmers in Kankakee."

Reaching out to the constituents in Kankakee has been a high priority for Kelly. "That’s why I set up three offices in the district – in south suburban Matteson, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago and in Kankakee."

Kelly added, "From border to border, my office has got you covered. If there’s ever anything we can assist you with, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. My door is always open to you."

"I’ve introduced gun safety bills to put stricter safety standards on guns and to keep violent, dangerous people from being able to buy guns," said Kelly. The first bills introduced by Kelly were two gun safety bills - H.R. 2464, The Improving Gun Safety Standards Act and H.R. 2465 – The Recognizing Gun Violence as A Public Health Emergency Act. H.R. 2464 amends the Consumer Product Safety Act to allow for stricter safety standards on guns and ammunition to help reduce gun-related deaths.

"I’ve also introduced legislation to recognize gun violence as a public health epidemic by requiring the U.S. Surgeon General to submit an annual report to Congress on gun violence and its impact on society," added Kelly. H.R. 2465 requires the U.S. Surgeon General to submit to Congress an annual report on the effects of gun violence on the public’s health in order to develop informed strategies on how best to protect our communities from gun violence.

Kelly promised not to giver up on the issue. "I believe that the only way to find real solutions to gun violence is for Congress to have an honest and courageous conversation about the true nature of the problem."

Kelly added, "And that includes getting a real sense of the impact of gun violence from the people who grapple with it every day. Last fall, I brought a group of Chicago families of victims of gun violence to DC to tell lawmakers their stories and to lobby for common sense gun reform."

"Ours is a grassroots coalition that grows each day, a national movement for gun reform that will not give up until the epidemic of gun violence is brought to an end," said Kelly with the hope of putting an end to gun tragedies.

Kelly then turned her attention to "jobs." Kelly put it simply: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

Kelly introduced H.R. 3328, the American Opportunity Act, which helps to reduce unemployment by extending the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for businesses that hire long-term unemployed workers and other groups at risk for high unemployment.

Last May, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer visited the district and was given a personal tour by Kelly.

That brings us to Kelly's other "main priority" for the district: "Jobs."

With the visit of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, his ideas of his pet project, "Making it in America," was highlighted. The program has four elements, which Kelly hopes to implement in the district. Kelly met with manufacturers and innovators to discuss what we can do to help businesses grow and create jobs here in the district. Helping manufacturers produce more goods here in Illinois, and maintaining America’s innovation edge by training a highly skilled workforce is key to the long-term economic growth of our district.

Kelly is committed to "Getting the Second District back to work and committed to helping spur job growth to accomplish this goal."

"I brought House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to tour manufacturing companies in the district to tout the fine products we make here and to encourage increased investment in local manufacturing. I also traveled the district on an economic development tour to visit with small business owners to hear their concerns and challenges and to learn how I can best help support their growth," said Kelly about the Hoyer visit.

I held a Small Business Workshop in which I connected small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch and expand their businesses.

I’ve put such a large emphasis on small businesses because they are the engines driving our economic turnaround by creating the vast majority of new jobs in our country. And one thing is clear: Our district is in need of jobs.

In October she took matters in her own hands by sponsoring "The 2nd Congressional District Job Fair in South Holland," where over 1,400 residents looking for work with employers looking to hire. "I held a job fair last fall that drew nearly 1500 job seekers, people who were willing to stand in long lines that snaked the building for the opportunity for work."

Kelly is also "pushing in DC for Congress to pass the unemployment insurance extension and why I’ve been working so hard to encourage job creation here at home."

But her favorite project is the "third airport."

Last June, the Illinois House and Senate passed Senate Bill 20 (SB 20), which among other matters, approved the construction of a third airport in Peotone under the authority of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Kelly said of the third airport, "This is a game-changer for Illinois. I applaud the Governor and General Assembly for breaking the logjam over governance. I’m hopeful that construction of this airport will expand our state’s aviation capacity and make the Southland a vital part of the global economy.”

Kelly added that she "looks forward to working closely with IDOT and local officials to ensure we minimize environmental impacts and maximize economic benefits."

"I continue to work to support the progress of major economic development projects here in the Southland, including the Third Airport and the Illiana Expressway, two projects that will create scores of new jobs," said Kelly about the "jobs engine" that the airport will become.

"I’m happy to report that both the airport and the expressway are moving forward at an encouraging pace," said Kelly. "I’ve twice met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and FAA officials to express my strong support for the airport and to encourage them to expedite final approval of the project. At one of those meetings, I brought in state representatives and senators from South Cook, Will and Kankakee counties to show the broad based support for the airport."

"With support at the federal, state and local level, I am very optimistic about the future of the airport," said Kelly. "Likewise, I am encouraged by the pace of the Illiana Expressway project. Construction of the expressway is expected to start next year. The Third Airport and the Illiana Expressway will create tens of thousands of jobs in the Southland and help revive commercial development and manufacturing, a much-needed economic boom for our region."

Far too many homeowners in the 2nd District are struggling to maintain their mortgages. To address this issue, Kelly held the 2nd Congressional District Housing Expo in Matteson, where she and her staff assisted hundreds of district residents who’d fallen behind on their mortgages, were in danger of foreclosure, or who were looking to buy a home for the first time. Home ownership and access to affordable housing are the foundation for financial security for families and Kelly is committed to increasing housing options in the district.

Just this past week, Kelly hosted the 2nd Congressional District Health & Wellness Resource Fair at Corliss Early College STEM High School in Chicago. The fair offered participants’ health-related resources and screenings, access to social service program information, as well as fitness, nutrition, and stress management sessions. Kelly is committed to promoting preventive health care and early detection, and to encouraging residents of the 2nd District to live healthier and more active lives.

Kelly also introduced H.R. 3956, the Community Investment & Empowerment Act. This bill authorizes the Small Business Administration to make grants available to economically underserved communities, and incentivizes businesses, like grocery stores, retail chains, and restaurants, to locate in areas that have struggled to recruit and retain businesses to meet residents’ needs.

Another proud achievement is the introduction of H.R. 3929, the Pullman National Historical Park Act, which designates the Pullman historic district as a National Park. Designating Pullman a National Park "will create a wonderful tourist attraction in the area that will be a local job creator as well as a boon for the national economy," says Kelly.

Kelly has also formed the 2nd Congressional District STEM Council. The council consists of key innovators, educators, and business leaders in our community who are committed to working with me to find effective ways to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to train the workforce of tomorrow.

As an extension of this goal, Kelly formed the 2nd District STEM Academy for local students. The academy offers STEM boot camps to help expose kids to STEM careers and to encourage them to pursue STEM educations. The key to America’s global competitiveness is propelling our students to the top of the pack in science and math achievement. Providing local students with access to creative STEM curriculum taught by leaders in STEM fields is a big step in the right direction and is the core mission of my STEM Academy, says Kelly.

As part of Kelly's efforts to increase educational opportunities for young people, Kelly started a book donation program in her office. Through the Library of Congress Surplus Books Program Kelly has given over 1,000 books to schools in the 2nd District since the start of the school year. Kelly says that "It’s imperative that our students have access to the resources they need to succeed in school and I am committed to helping connect them with those resources."


Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions at


John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns. John is an unpaid volunteer and social media advisor at Robin Kelly for Congress.

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