Today is a new and exciting day for all citizens of Illinois. I congratulate Governor Pritzker on his inauguration and look forward to seeing all the great things his administration will do for our state. The budget crisis eroded the confidence that citizens of Illinois should have in their government, and too many people suffered when the state government failed to make good on their promises to the elderly and students. I am confident that JB will help get our state back on the right track by creating new jobs and making Illinois a place where everyone will have access to opportunities for a better future.
By Katlyn Smith
Naperville Democrat Bill Foster will retain his 11th Congressional District seat after a convincing win over Republican challenger Nick Stella.
Foster returns to Congress for his fourth term as one of the most vocal suburban critics of the Trump presidency. Foster coasted to re-election with 140,538 votes, according to unofficial results from 467 of 468 precincts reporting in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties. Stella, a 49-year-old Darien cardiologist, received 80,355 votes.
Foster, 62, has stressed his experience as a particle physicist, sharply rebuking the Trump administration’s appointments at the Environmental Protection Agency, regulatory rollbacks on coal plants and the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.
“When you leave science as the basis for environmental protection, I think you’re going off the tracks, and we’ve seen that again and again,” Foster said during the campaign.
Foster celebrated with his supporters in Naperville, saying he was “very gratified” at his re-election.
In the next session of Congress, Foster vows to oppose cuts to scientific research and wants to seriously consider a Medicare buy-in for people in their 50s. He doesn’t endorse a “Medicare for All” plan championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democrats to have a government-run system cover all Americans.
The Stella campaign made headlines across the pond for a social media ad with an old photo of a dilapidated street in an English village and the message “Help President Trump keep America on track and thriving.”
On his way from Princeton University to the New Jersey state capitol building in Trenton a few weeks ago, Andrew Zwicker was noticeably amped. Zwicker is the head of scientific education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, but he was en route to his other job: state lawmaker. He was excited because he was about to make a presentation about policy using a toy-size plastic car. “I can’t imagine any lawmaker has ever done this before,” he says.
The New Jersey Legislature’s Science, Technology and Innovation Committee was holding a hearing about fuel-cell technology, and Zwicker is committee chair. Once in the hearing room, he pulled out his model automobile, which, equipped with a water tank and set of wires, runs on hydrogen. Zwicker, the only PhD scientist in the legislature, dove into an explanation about splitting water molecules to produce energy capable of powering a vehicle, and then he let the model zoom across a desk. Later he posted a video of the demo online with the hashtag #TodayWasAGoodDayForScience.
On the verge of Election Day in the U.S. a political movement focused on getting scientists into public office is hoping that results at the polls will lead to more scenes like this one at state houses, city councils and school boards across the country, not just at a federal level. At least 70 scientist–candidates launched bids for office at the state and local level this election cycle, most of them first-time campaigners and part of a record wave of scientists bucking a long-established penchant to avoid the political arena. Organizers hope this will become a deep bench of up-and-coming policy makers with science and technology backgrounds who might contest for higher office in years to come. Or many may stay local, because those jobs are usually part-time and allow researchers to maintain careers that were their first passion.
“I’ve had conversations with scientists from all over the country who call or write and ask, ‘How did you do it?’” says Zwicker, who was reelected last year. “We’re at a critical stage, and I have no doubt we’re going to see more and more scientists running for public office.” The surge is rooted deeper than a reaction to the Trump administration’s anti-science policies that began in 2017. It is a longer-term response to years of contempt for facts and evidence-based decisions on Capitol Hill and in state houses of government.
Running for Congress, however, requires a deep-pocketed network and the backing of established political machinery—both qualities most scientists aspiring to be politicians tend to lack at the start. That is why a sustainable movement will require building from the ground up, says U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Democrat from Illinois and a physicist. “There have been some great candidates emerging recently,” he says. “The main effect of what’s happening now may show up in five or 15 years when a lot of the people who have won at the local level and the state level decide to run at the congressional and Senate level.”
For Jasmine Clark, a microbiologist and lecturer at Emory Universitycompeting for a state house seat in a district about 30 minutes northeast of Atlanta, the decision to run for office was not difficult. But she says there has been a steep learning curve, including figuring out how to craft a message to sell herself to voters. On the campaign trail, though her flyers include a drawing of an atom, she says some people “could care less that I’m a scientist, so most of the time I don’t harp too much on the science part. But when I say things like we need to get back to facts, they all agree with that.”
Clark, a Democrat, ran unopposed in the primary but is now facing an entrenched incumbent with more money and name recognition, a prospect that makes her an underdog in the general election. “To me, this almost feels like a trial run or practice,” she says. “But if I don’t win I know what to do better next time.”
The microbiologist is one of roughly 70 state and local STEM candidates endorsed by 314 Action, a nonprofit and political advocacy group named after the first three digits of Pi. With a war chest of several million dollars, the group is spending its money to train, recruit and support scientists, doctors, engineers and techies. Although most of 314 Action’s money this cycle will go toward a field of endorsed federal candidates, in the future the group wants to put more cash into local races “where a lot of the action on climate, education and health care issues are going to come from,” says Shaughnessy Naughton, 314 Action’s founder and a former breast cancer researcher.
Naughton says 314 Action has heard from about 7,000 people with STEM backgrounds interested in running for office. But “to run for Congress, that’s a full-time job,” she says, speaking from personal experience: She tried it herself, twice, and lost both times. But local races “are much more manageable races in terms of the scope. This is that first step to show you can bring people onboard with you,” she notes.
To reach those people, hobnobbing and working a crowd are musts, and not all scientists do those things well, says Valerie Horsley, a molecular biologist at Yale University, who ran unsuccessfully for state senate in Connecticut earlier this year. “I had people tell me ‘you have to go into the room and start shaking hands.’ That was terrifying. Scientists tend to be hunkered in their own world,” she says. “There are skills like that you have to gain to be on the same playing field as some of the other people that are running.”
Horsley adds she is not ruling out another state or local campaign, but running for Congress is not in her future. Federal lawmakers do not hold outside jobs when in office, and for the biologist that is a big problem. “There’s still some things I would still like to do in the scientific world,” she says.
Needing to choose between a career in science and a full-time gig in public service is one of the main reasons more STEM candidates do not run for elected office, says Kevork Abazajian, an astrophysicist and director of the Center for Cosmology at the University of California, Irvine. He is running for an at-large seat on the Irvine City Council, and says that splitting his time between university duties and voter canvassing and fundraising events is currently manageable. But it would be different if he were vying for higher office. “It is more of a challenge for scientists to put off their profession to run,” he says. “One way to try it out is at the municipal level and see what it’s like to run and serve. If it bodes well, they can go on to the state legislature or beyond.”
Naperville, IL – Today, Bill Foster announced that he received the endorsement of the UAW Illinois State Community Action Program (CAP) for the 2018 General Election. The UAW CAP represents almost 70,000 union members across the state of Illinois.
“I am proud to accept the endorsement of the UAW. Organized labor has been a critical component of our country’s strong economy and a source of opportunities for hardworking Americans,” Foster said. “I look forward to working side-by-side with organized labor to elect Democrats up and down the ballot and to continue working with them to improve the lives of American workers after November.”
By Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
What a contest: the physicist vs. the cardiologist. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville, a Democrat representing the west suburban 11th Congressional District, is a physicist. Foster leans liberal but often partners with Republicans. As a scientist, he favors studying the data. Foster’s worked across the aisle on opioid issues, patent improvements and legislation to lift lending restrictions on community banks. He intrigued us with an observation about the health care crisis: Much of the long-term cost increases will be driven by diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease care: “If we can come up with a low-cost cure for either one of those, that effectively eliminates the long-term fiscal crisis of Medicare.”
The Republican challenger, Nick Stella, is a cardiologist from Darien who ran for Congress previously. Stella is well-prepared on the issues and understands Obamacare’s shortcomings. Both are solid candidates, but the edge goes to the physicist. Foster is endorsed.
By Daily Herald Editorial Board
With science under attack in the federal government and concerns about climate change broadening, it’s good to have a scientist in the house. Specifically, the U.S. House, where 11th District incumbent Bill Foster not only knows his science but expresses it with a calm and civil demeanor that is in short supply in this rancorous year.
Foster, a particle physicist and a Democrat from Naperville, is seeking his fourth term, and we see no reason to replace him. He is quietly effective in a Congress ruled by the GOP, co-sponsoring with Arkansas Republican Rep. French Hill a bill protecting financial institutions during money laundering investigations and another with Hill and Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano to exempt community banks from the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from certain investments using their accounts.
That kind of bipartisanship is sorely needed in Congress, no matter which party ends up in control of the House.
Foster passionately echoes his political party on the marquee issues of the day — opposing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, backing an earned path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, opposing repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and calling out President Donald Trump for “moral failures” in separating immigrant families at the border and imposing a travel ban for people from countries that largely have Muslim majorities.
Foster’s Republican opponent, Nick Stella of Darien, also deals with science as an interventional cardiologist. However, Stella falls short on detailed analysis and is too quick with partisan brickbats aimed at his opponent.
We endorse Foster in the 11th District, which includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties.
We sized them up one by one, considering the character, professional qualifications and policy positions of 25 candidates for Congress in the 12 districts making up the Chicago metropolitan area.
And what did we get?
We can’t remember the last time the Sun-Times has endorsed only Democrats for Congress, and we surely will be endorsing Republicans — and possibly candidates of other parties — running in other races on Nov. 6. Our philosophy has been to endorse candidates who best fit their districts, even when that means they don’t necessarily share all our views.
But, to our thinking, a kind of perfect storm works in favor of Democrats and against Republicans this time around.
To begin with, two suburban districts that have been a lock for Republicans for years — the 6th and 14th — have shifted slightly left in recent elections. Their demographics have changed, and the Trump Effect — our toxic president’s way of repelling moderate Republicans and independents — no doubt has furthered the shift.
Science is under attack in Washington, and our nation is the worse for it. The Trump administration, in the service of corporate polluters, is systematically dismantling science-based policies and international agreements designed to protect our air and water and curb man-made climate change. At such times, it’s good to have a true scientist in the House, Rep. Bill Foster, a physicist and businessman. Foster, whom we endorse for re-election, has become an important resource for colleagues on both sides of the aisle on everything from cyber-security to nuclear weapons development. In his next two-year term, Foster says he will continue the fight to protect and improve the Affordable Care Act, as well as for a “fairer tax code” that shifts more of the revenue burden to billionaires and corporations, infrastructure funding for Illinois, and solutions to the opioid crisis. Foster’s Republican opponent is Chicago cardiologist Nick Stella.
By Erin Hegarty
Armed with signs bearing messages like “Kava nope,” “Believe women” and “The world is watching,” about 100 people gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Naperville to protest the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The FBI this week completed an investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh following last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of attempting to sexually assault when they were in high school. The Senate may vote Friday on his nomination.
Naperville resident Karen Peck helped organize the event, held at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street, as part of a nationwide series of “Stop Kavanuagh” vigils orchestrated by MoveOn, a national group that cites a mission of social justice and political progress. Peck said she was impressed with the number of people, including U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, who attended the event with about a day’s notice.
Foster addressed protesters under Naperville’s Freedom of Speech pavilion.
Something that cannot be ignored are the results of an election, Foster said, as he encouraged people to vote in upcoming November and April elections.
“The only way we can never lose is if the next generation remembers that votes matter and elections matter and bad things happen when good people stay home,” Foster told the crowd.
Following the address, protesters stood on the sidewalk adjacent to Jackson Avenue chanting and clapping as passing motorists honked their horns.
“The Supreme Court should be a nonpartisan, deliberative, check and balance body. Brett Kavanaugh threatens that,” said Dianne McGuire with Indivisible Naperville. “The lying he has done under oath about his life in general should disqualify him instantly.”
Naperville resident Neal Sternecky held an orange triangular sign with “Devil’s Triangle” written in the middle and the faces of President Donald Trump, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kavanaugh in each of the corners.
“It seemed all too fitting, and sadly all branches of government are represented (in the sign),” Sternecky said. “I think it’s really unbelievable that Kavanaugh has not withdrawn yet.”
Batavia resident Cherie Jones Das said it was important she attend Wednesday’s protest to ensure her voice and those of others are heard.
“I know people who have had things like (sexual assault) happen to them. We need to stand up,” Jones Das said. “Kavanaugh should not be a justice on our Supreme Court.”
Wednesday marked the first time Hinsdale resident Tony DeLorenzo participated in a protest.
“I’m out here because of fear. I’m fearful for our democracy,” DeLorenzo said. “When credible sexual assault accusations started to come out, it was obvious this nomination should be shot down.”
Aurora resident Tania Taverson stood on the sidewalk adjacent to Jackson Avenue with a sign that read “Believe women.”
By Katlyn Smith
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster wants to give serious consideration to a Medicare buy-in for people in their 50s, but doesn’t endorse a “Medicare for All” plan that has been gaining favor with some Democrats.
His Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 election, Dr. Nick Stella, a Darien cardiologist, has called for gradually raising the eligibility age for Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors 65 and older.
The 11th Congressional District candidates offer starkly different views on the future of Medicare as government projections released in June show the benefit program faces insolvency in 2026.
“Medicare needs to be salvaged,” said Stella, who in March won his second attempt at the GOP nomination to try to unseat Foster. “It is very, very unpopular with politicians to talk about that, to talk about the fact that if we don’t do anything, we are going to run out of money.”
Stella wants to increase the age when people become eligible for Medicare given that life expectancies have risen since the program was enacted more than 50 years ago.
“And yet we haven’t seen any significant increase in the age of eligibility of Medicare, so that’s something that needs to slowly be pushed back,” Stella said in a recent interview with the Daily Herald editorial board.
Raising the eligibility age “has to be done in a humane manner,” Stella said.
“Someone in their 30s, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that maybe now they need to look at a two- or three- or a four-year extension to what the eligibility is,” Stella said. ” … You cannot take someone in their 60s and say, ‘Oh, suddenly you’ve got a two-year extension, and you’re going to have to work another two years before you’re eligible for that.'”
Foster, a Naperville Democrat seeking his fourth term representing the 11th District, equated pushing back the eligibility age to cutting Medicare, though Stella disagreed.
“Unlike my opponent, I do not believe in cutting Medicare or raising the eligibility age, which amounts to a complete cut for everyone who you exclude from Medicare eligibility,” said Foster, a former particle physicist. “In fact, I think we should move in the opposite way.”
Foster said proposals to allow people in their 50s to buy into Medicare “should be looked at very hard.” In a follow-up statement, Foster said lawmakers should task the Congressional Budget Office and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service with estimating the costs of Medicare buy-in premiums to “determine if this is a promising, realistic option.”
“One of the most critical health care challenges in this country are faced by middle-aged people who are struggling with high medical costs as they age but before they are old enough to qualify for Medicare,” Foster said in the statement. “A promising way to meet this need is to allow people aged 55-64 to buy into Medicare at cost — meaning the premiums would be adjusted to cover the actuarial value of the Medicare coverage for people in that age group. This would effectively be a ‘public option’ for people in that age range, and would not cost taxpayers any money.
“I previously supported a public option for all Americans when I voted for the House version of the Affordable Care Act. I believe this would be a useful step towards a public option for all Americans.”
How would Foster shore up the program’s future?
“One way that we can do that is to do what I supported in the past, which is to make the cap on earnings — right now you tax earnings only to about $125,000 and then it stops,” he said in the editorial board interview. “I believe that once you get above, say $250,000, above the middle class, that we should resume taxing those at roughly the same rates. That would largely solve the solvency problem.”
Foster doesn’t back “Medicare for All” legislation, a model championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to have a government-run system cover all Americans.
“It has an unknown cost, and I think it has not looked honestly at what the limits have to be for people who present themselves to our system with no assets and no insurance,” he said.
Finding a cure for chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes would help reduce the strain on Medicare funding, Foster said.
“There are in fact drugs fairly far along the pipeline that will deal effectively and not too expensively with diabetes, and if we could come up with a low-cost cure for diabetes, that alone would solve the long-term stress on health care spending in our country,” he said. “Similarly, roughly a third of our Medicare spending goes toward diabetes, and we’re within sight in the next 20 years of another third going toward Alzheimer’s.
“Alzheimer’s is a tougher nut to crack, but I think that our government has been underinvesting in the research that will lead to cures for both of these. It will pay off many times over.”
The 11th District spans parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties, including Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge and Joliet.
By Suzanne Baker
It was a small showing Tuesday for the 11th District Congressional candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County at Aurora University where Republican challenger Nick Stella squared off against incumbent Democrat Bill Foster.
Patricia Lackman of the League of Women Voters, who served as moderator at the forum, said she was “saddened and disappointed” only 20 members of the public showed up for the forum.
“That’s kind of a sad state of affairs,” Lackman said.
She said as a nonpartisan organization, the league strives to develop informed voters.
By attending the forum, “it says you believe in democracy and want to have your voice heard,” Lackman told the audience.
For an hour, the candidates went back and forth on topics suggested by members of the audience. Their responses, for the most part, fell along party lines.
The 11th District stretches from Aurora to Burr Ridge and extends south into Joliet and includes portions of Naperville.
The two were asked how they would eliminate any debt created by the GOP tax bill that is projected to add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade.
“The Republican tax plan is a mistake,” Foster said, adding that the wealthy need to pay their fair share of taxes.
Stella disagreed, saying people should look at the good things that have come as a result of the tax bill, which has “helped to put money back in the pockets of everyday working-class Americans.”
Stella said the hope is to pay off the debt by growing the economy and increasing tax revenue.
On the issue of immigration, Foster said it was tragic that Congress hasn’t approved a comprehensive immigration reform measure, saying he is concerned about “the vilification of immigrants and separation of families and the long list of immigration outrages that are in this country today.”
Stella suggested the children who were brought to America illegally by their parents should not be given preferential treatment. However, he said as long as they’ve lived a “good life and not broken laws and not committed felonies, I think we can think about a pathway to citizenship.”
However, he said they should not be put above people who’ve immigrated to the United States legally.
Regarding having a question on the 2020 U.S. Census requiring people to check a box if they are a citizen or not, Stella said he doesn’t feel strongly either way.
Stella said he understands some question whether people will fill out the census if they are in the United States illegally because they are worried about being deported.
“I don’t know that I agree with those statements,” he added.
Foster said statistics show a citizenship question will result in a reduction in the number of people counted. He said the U.S. Constitution says you should count people, not citizens.
He said he has talked to the mayors of Aurora, Bolingbrook and Joliet about the potential loss of federal funds if the local population is undercounted.
“You’re talking about millions of dollars being removed from Illinois’ 11th District,” Foster said.
On the issue of Medicare, Stella said Congress has been afraid to make the important decisions.
“I think that Medicare has been a promise we’ve made to our senior citizens for an awful long time now, and unfortunately the likelihood we can keep that promise decreases with each and every day,” he said.
“I think we need to look at other ways to help our seniors. We need to expand coverage,” but do it in a “fiscally prudent manner,” Stella said.
Foster said Medicare needs to be expanded and strengthened and more money should be put into diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease research.
When it comes to infrastructure, both said they’ll push to bring more federal dollars to the area for projects.
Bill Foster is a scientist, businessman and U.S. Congressman. He represents Illinois’ 11th Congressional District, which is located in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and contains three of Illinois’ largest cities – Aurora, Joliet, and Naperville.
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