This afternoon, State Rep. Julie Hamos is officially announcing her entry in the race for the 10th Congressional District seat being vacated by Republican Mark Kirk in 2010. Yesterday, I had a chance to chat briefly with her about the race and her policy priorities if ...
This afternoon, State Rep. Julie Hamos is officially announcing her entry in the race for the 10th Congressional District seat being vacated by Republican Mark Kirk in 2010. Yesterday, I had a chance to chat briefly with her about the race and her policy priorities if elected to the House of Representatives. "This is an incredible opportunity to take an important district and turn it over [to the Democrats]," she said. "And I think I'm a strong candidate to be able to do that."
Reflecting on her years in Springfield, Hamos said, "I have a very strong and fertile record that I'm very proud of." Specifically, she cited her work building coalitions around "local food" initiatives and advancing efforts to reform Tamms Correctional Facility. Transportation remains one of her main areas of interest as well. "On the first day [in Congress], I would ask to be on the transportation committee of one sort of another because I will want to continue to work on that." The environment and consumer credit regulation are some of her other priorities.
When asked what she views as her skill set, Hamos had this to say:
"Over the years, I have often begun by building coalitions around agendas. And the coalitions continued down the path of creating really important public policies. So one of those examples is children's mental health. My work on domestic violence early in my career is an example of that. This local food and farm job development is an example of that. I believe that I will continue as a congresswoman in the same vein, bringing people around the table and building coalitions. I think it's the most empowering way to do this kind of policy work -- empowering for people to really get engaged." [...]
"One of my strong suits is that I don't just introduce bills, send out a press release, and it's over. I like to really track the progress and effective implementation of laws after they're passed."
On the major issue of the day -- health care -- she said she supports President Obama's push for a public option, but expects that particular debate to have subsided by the time she reaches Washington. She also mentioned taking a trip with Dr. Quentin Young to observe the Canadian health care system about 20 years ago. Young is a fervent single payer advocate, so I asked for her thoughts on that approach to reforming our broken health care system:
"After my many years of working in the public policy realm, I think I can blend a sense of the grand vision with a sense of what is practically possible. And I think at this point in time, it's just not possible to create a single payer system, which would, in a sense, blow up the insurance industry. I don't think we can get there at this point in time."
One issue that may arise over the course of the campaign is the fact Hamos lives outside of the 10th District (along with two of the other Democratic primary candidates). In response, she noted that about a third of her legislative district overlaps with IL-10. "For four elections, they've elected me from the 10th Congressional District," she said. "So I feel like I certainly have that kind of touchstone and connection with the district." She added that she plans to move into IL-10 in the near future.
Finally, Hamos described the enthusiasm she sees around her bid and highlighted some initial fundraising figures:
"I think we're building a great base of support in the 10th District already. You know, I was encouraged to run by some of my colleagues from the 10th Congressional District and that was meaningful to me. We're now building on that and building a great base of local support. [...]
"We've already received pledges of over $200,000 in just the one week that I've been making phone calls. I think that's a great start and I think it shows again the strength of my support."