On Jan. 5, John Elleson appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the GOP seat in the 9th Congressional district of Illinois in the March 2018 primary:
My name is John Elleson. I’m from the Chicagoland area. Been here awhile and I pastor a church actually in Arlington Heights and we’re glad to be here.
Top priorities is I really want to put a new face on Chicago. I want to be a bridge builder, I want to build bridges with the other party and I want to help bring good jobs to Chicago. I really think we could have a chance to bring Amazon here. I know that’s a tall order, their second headquarters. I want to bring Apple here. I really think that we could get back to being a business city.
My main cause is to bring good jobs to Illinois, to the city and high paying jobs. When I graduated from high school in 1980 you could get a job at Caterpillar for twenty-two dollars an hour. In 1980. Today, twenty-two dollars an hour would be considered good pay for someone getting out of high school or college. So, we have a long way to go. That’s my biggest thing, is to bring good high paying jobs and infrastructure.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for Congress a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. John Elleson submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
QUESTION: As a member of the House from Illinois, please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.
ANSWER: I want to represent all the people in the district, not just the Republicans or the Republican Party. I want to be a bridge builder.
Drug and alcohol addiction, especially among our young people.
Good high paying jobs.
John D. Elleson
District running for: 9th Congressional district (Illinois)
Political/civic background: None
Education: Pastoral Theology Degree, 1985, Christian Life College
Campaign website: JohnElleson.com
QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.
ANSWER: The rebuilding of public infrastructure.
Bringing good high paying jobs into the District.
Dealing with the drug epidemic, opioid addiction. I know of about 8 people in our church with relatives who have died of heroin overdose in the last year. It’s a real issue.
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QUESTION: If you are running as a Democrat, what is your best idea for getting any initiative you may propose advanced if the House continues to be controlled by the GOP after the 2018 elections?
TOPIC: President Donald Trump
QUESTION: What do you make of President Trump?
ANSWER: I do not have a problem with him. He is different, but I think our country can survive a change and may even need a change from time to time from the regular politicians.
QUESTION: Which three actions by the Trump administration do you support the most? Which three do you oppose the most?
ANSWER: SUPPORT: The tax reform bill. I like seeing corporations raising wages and giving bonuses to their employees.
The Executive Order on extreme vetting to countries who do not have good operational systems in place on who their citizens are, and who are applying for visas to go abroad.
The Executive Order on the Johnson Amendment.
OPPOSE: I do not like the way he goes after his opponents and attacks people.
QUESTION: What is your view of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 election, including possible collusion by the Trump campaign? Does Mueller have your support?
ANSWER: I understand the need for an investigation, but I think it could become overdone and harmful to our country if it’s not wrapped up soon. Like the rest, I do not see much collusion. The longer it goes on, he is losing my support.
QUESTION: What should Congress do to reduce the threat of terrorism at home, either from ISIS or from others?
ANSWER: We need to keep trying to root out the problem abroad. Maintain military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Watch who we allow into the country. Keep an eye on the possible trouble makers that are already here.
TOPIC: Guns and violence
QUESTION: What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence in the United States?
ANSWER: Background checks.
QUESTION: Do you favor a law banning the sale and use of “bump stocks” that increase the firing speed of semi-automatic weapons? Why? Do you favor any further legal limits on guns of any kind? Or, conversely, what gun restrictions should be done away with?
ANSWER: Yes. There is no need for them. The potential of harm outweighs and benefit. Yes. The sale and purchase of assault style weapons.
TOPIC: America’s growing wealth gap
QUESTION: As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation supported by the Republican majorities in the House and Senate is that it lowers taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time of historic inequalities of wealth and income in the United States. We believe in free markets, but it does not look to us like the “silent hand” of the market is functioning properly, rewarding merit fairly. We are troubled that the top 1 percent of Americans own 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 90 percent own just 22.8 percent of the wealth. Tell us how we are right or wrong about this. Does the growing income and wealth gap trouble you?
ANSWER: Higher taxes are not the answer to the historic inequalities of wealth and income. We need to promote good paying jobs in communities and lift people’s income. We need to keep jobs from going overseas. I am in favor of higher taxes on money made overseas from multi-national corporations. When I got out of high school in 1980, you could get on at Caterpillar and make $22.00 an hour. Today it’s hard to get a job for $22.00 an hour, in which something is wrong. We need to correct this.
TOPIC: International affairs
QUESTION: Do you support the Trump administration’s decision to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? How will this help or hinder efforts to secure a lasting peace between Israel and its Middle East neighbors
ANSWER: I don’t have a problem with it. I have some doubt that it will actually get done; it may be a symbolic move to the base.
It could hinder it, but there hasn’t been much progress any way over the last several decades.
QUESTION: Is military action by the United States a plausible response to the nuclear weapons threat posed by North Korea? How might a U.S. military response play out for South Korea, Japan and China? What alternative do you support?
ANSWER: No, but we still should take this seriously and do all we can to stop the threat.
It could be catastrophic, especially since they are close neighbors.
Economic sanctions, pressure on China and Russia to back and enforce the sanctions. If all fails, push Japan to consider creating their own nuclear program, so China will take this more seriously. They do not want a nuclear Japan. We need to stay engaged and keep the pressure on North Korea. At the end of the day, you may have to live with a nuclear North Korea and contain it the best you can, while always ready for the worse scenario. We should also keep working on our anti-missile defense systems.
QUESTION: The Supreme Court has ruled that the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban on eight countries with predominantly Muslim populations can go into effect while legal challenges against the ban continue. What is your position on this travel ban?
ANSWER: I have no problem with it. You have to have special vetting for countries that do not have good operational systems in place. You have to be able to know who is applying for a visa and wanting to come into the country.
QUESTION: Has the United States in the last decade been accepting too many immigrants, and does this pose a threat to the American way of life?
ANSWER: Yeah- I think this may be true. I’m for immigration, but I’m also for smart policy that doesn’t hurt our country in an adverse way. Immigration is good, if it is properly controlled. If it’s not controlled, it could have an adverse effect.
QUESTION: Should the “wall” between the United States and Mexico be built? What might it accomplish? What might it accomplish?
ANSWER: Truthfully, I initially liked it. But now that it’s a possibility, I think we need to think long and hard on it, to make sure it is the right thing. It could help stop the flow of illegal border crossings.
TOPIC: Affordable Care Act
QUESTION: The tax reform plan created by Republican majorities in the House and Senate would eliminate the Obamacare “individual mandate” that most Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine. Does this threaten the viability of the Affordable Care Act? What more on this, if anything, should be done?
ANSWER: Yes- it could. I think we need to work on fixes to bring the cost of health insurance down. The goal needs to be about good health care to as many people as possible, not just health insurance to as many people as possible. Some people have health insurance, but it’s too expensive to use due to their high deductibles.
TOPIC: The opponent(s)
QUESTION: What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
ANSWER: I do not know much about the other people who are running. I mostly only know their names. I am not running a campaign of difference against my opponents in the primary or if lucky enough, the general election. All of them are probably good people. I do know if I am fortunate enough to represent the 9th District, I would be a representative for ALL the people. The church I pastor is probably around 2/3’s democrat, and 2/3’s of color, and we get along great, even though we have differences. I enjoy and desire diversity. The 9th District is 2/3’s democrat, in order for a republican to win; it’s going to take someone like myself.
I was raised in the family bakery business in small towns across Illinois. We were at the bakery by 2:00 am each morning, even before school. We were on the poorer side and worked hard, coming from a family of 7. Things changed and my Dad did well, in which hard honest work was very much a part of my upbringing. I say this to say, I am usually for the underdog, and want to help and see people succeed.