Running for: 1st Congressional District of Illinois
Political/civic background: Community Advocate/Activist/Humanitarian/Violence
Occupation: Chief Operating Over Outreach
Education: Doctorate in Education
Campaign website: ameenaforcongress.org/
Facebook: Ameena Matthews for Congress
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and their districts. Ameena Nuur-Matthews submitted the following responses:
Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or other paid or volunteer work to improve your community.
I currently work in a program within the YMCA, Youth Safety and Violence Prevention, (YSVP), where we assist youth in cooking, mentoring, life skills and field trips. We have a non-profit called Pause 4 Peace and the motto is “Don’t Let 30 Seconds of Rage Change Your Life Forever.” I also work in the community as an advocate for those who need to organize to fight systemic issues such as poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, violence against the community and violence within the community as a result of the lack of funding that has plagued the 1 st District and surrounding areas. I also have stood on the front lines and fought for Laquan McDonald to receive justice for being murdered. I founded an organization called Protect the Frontline where we stand with organizations throughout the Chicago area who fight for equality in many of the disenfranchised communities. My life has been dedicated to improving our communities.
What are your views on the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump? Has the impeachment process been fair or not? How so? If, in your view, the president should not have been impeached, would you have supported censure? Please explain.
I support the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump. The impeachment process has not been completely fair because, in my opinion, there should have been mandatory participation from the White House. I do not believe it should have been optional for their participation. I would not have supported censure because there have been a number of actions by President Trump which have been denounced as they were openly discussed in the media and it has not stopped the controversial behavior.
How would you reduce the federal budget deficit, which now stands at about $1 trillion for 2020? What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
I would reduce the federal budget deficit by cutting government spending and promoting economic growth by implementing a plan for job creation. Job creation will give individuals the ability to spend money, therefore increasing the growth in the economy. I also support tax cuts in an effort to expand the economy. The budget deficit has been increasing each year because it is not being paid.
What changes would you like to see made to our nation’s healthcare system? Would you shore up the Affordable Care Act or work to repeal it in full? What’s your view on Medicare for All? And what should be done, if anything, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs?
I would see monumental changes made to our nation’s healthcare system that would not only allow all individuals to have access to health care, but to receive quality health care which is given no matter what a person’s socio-economic status is or what their address may be. I would support the Affordable Care Act and not work to repeal it because it was a big step towards ensuring that people had access to health care whether they had pre- existing conditions or not. I would support Medicare for All because it does ask for every man, woman and child to be insured without any out of pocket costs that I believe cause many people not to seek medical treatment. The cost of prescription drugs has to be reduced because if a person requires regular prescriptions for on going illness, the lack of access to the necessary prescriptions can affect quality of life of individuals on a daily basis.
The Trump administration is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether it can end the DACA program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Do you support or oppose DACA and why? Should a path to citizenship be created for the so-called DREAMers? Please explain.
I support DACA because I believe that those who came to the U.S. as youth should be given an opportunity to be protected from deportation and given the ability to work and eventually seek their citizenship. I do not believe in separating families. I support a path for the DREAMers because they have already gone to school and worked hard to excel in the academic pursuits. These DREAMers have searched for a path that would allow them to be successful and continue to flourish in the United States.
What are the three most important issues in your district on which the federal government can and should act?
The three most of important issues in the 1st District in which the federal government can and should act is gun control legislation, impact of the Criminal Justice System as it relates to Mass Incarceration and the Mental Health Crisis that impacts many including those who are homeless.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent(s)?
The difference between me and my opponents that are running for the 1st Congressional District is that I have been a resident of the 1st Congressional District all of my life and I have seen the desolation of the communities which are plagued by poverty, homelessness and violence within and against our communities. I also have been working in this district to fight against systemic issues within the 1st District for over 25 years.
What action should Congress take, if any, to reduce gun violence?
Congress should take actions to reduce gun violence such as the regulation of firearms, universal background checks, which includes psychological evaluations of those completing applications.
Is climate change real? Is it significantly man-made? Is it a threat to humankind? What if anything should Congress and the federal government do about it?
Climate change is real and a real issue. It is not a man-made issue. It is definitely a threat to humankind. Congress and the federal government should be putting more funding towards the solutions to climate change by utilizing more governmental resources such as NASA to establish how solutions can be achieved.
What should Congress do to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare?
I believe that Congress will have to make an intentional effort to ensure the solvency of Social Security by making this a major issue by discussing mandatory Social Security coverage of state and local government employees, increasing the return on Social Security investments and raising the retirement age. As far as ensuring the solvency of Medicare, Congress needs to fight to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, stop paying private Medicare plans anything more than traditional Medicare and lower, not raise, the age of Medicare eligibility.
What should Congress do to address the student loan crisis? Would you use the word “crisis”?
I believe Congress should address the student loan crisis. I do believe its appropriate to call it a crisis because the debt that is being accumulated by many who go to school is astronomical based on the interest rates and the time it takes an individual to pay the funds back. Many people become some overwhelmed with debt, they often can’t find a job to accommodate the repayment of their student loan debt. If they fall behind, then their credit is affected which can prevent them from obtaining adequate employment.
What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?
Our nation’s relationship with Russia should be an amicable one that allows for the leaders to sit down and have discussions about any issues which may arise.
What’s your view on the use of tariffs in international commerce? Has President Trump imposed tariffs properly and effectively? Please explain.
I believe that the use of tariffs in international commerce are necessary to regulate commodities crossing international borders. I don’t believe President Trump has imposed tariffs properly and effectively. There are a number of retaliatory tariffs that are not beneficial or productive for the United States.
Does the United States have a responsibility to promote democracy in other countries? Please explain.
I believe the United States should first focus on promoting democracy in the U.S. before they try to promote it in other countries. I believe we should lead by example. First, we must get our own house in order before we try to help other countries.
What should Congress do to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms?
Since the Trump Administration has diminished the credibility of the U.S. as it relates to global arms control and nuclear non-proliferation norms, Congress has to utilize their power to provide a strategy for sustained nuclear diplomacy. This includes provisions passed by the House as a way to address U.S. national security interests.
Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.
I have no relatives on public or campaign payrolls.
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
One of the historical figures that I really admire is Gwendolyn Brooks. She was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize and she grew up in Chicago. I draw inspiration from her because she overcame many obstacles to achieve her dreams. I can relate to her in many ways because of the many struggles I have faced throughout my life.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time? Why?
One of my favorite TV shows is the Stephen Colbert Show. I have been a guest on his show, due to my work locally and internationally as a violence interrupter and a humanitarian. I respect his craft and how he is a really intelligent, outspoken individual.