Rush vs. Jackson

by  Assistant Editor

On March 21, the voters of the First Congressional District in Illinois will have a choice between their longtime incumbent Congressman, Bobby Rush, and former Chicago Housing Authority CEO and director of the Black Star Project Phillip Jackson. RJ decided to interview the two candidates.

Former CHA CEO Phillip Jackson, top, is challenging U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush (D-1) for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photos by Beatuy Turner

RJ interviewed Rush by telephone:

RJ: Mayor Richard M. Daley is using school closure as part of his school improvement strategy. Do you agree to this approach?

Bobby Rush: In order to get anything done most of all we need community involvement. We have an acute problem of parental absenteeism when it comes to important issues.

RJ: Many of the Chicago Housing Authority public housing high rises have been demolished, and many of the public housing residents have been displaced. Do you have any plans to address this issue?
BR: Again, that is another serious indication of absenteeism…these issues are not isolated, but are entwined and interconnected,” Rush said.

RJ: How are you addressing the needs of ex-offenders who are leaving prison and returning to their communities? BR: I have a bill that I’m trying to pass…concerning family members receiving calls from their loved one in prison to make it more affordable to keep family connected.

RJ: There were some questionable connections revealed recently by RJ concerning private contractors working with CHA allegedly being steered toward contributing to the 17th Ward Democratic Organization. Any comment?

BR: Just a blimp on the radar screen. I have worked very closely with Terry Peterson when it comes to Washington D.C issues such as public housing and him asking for federal help.

RJ next interviewed Phillip Jackson.

While Jackson pulled off a coat over his head still attempting to look at me over his small rimmed glasses, he revealed a yellow jogging suit top that read Educate or Die..

“What you see is what you get.” Jackson said. “I don’t feel that I need to wear a suit in order to get my point across.”

RJ: Why are you running?

PJ: I’m running because the people in the first congressional district are in trouble, many of them are. The district is actually a tale of two districts: there is a southern part…who are mostly white, are doing very, very well. For the most part, you can find million dollars houses out there; people got great jobs, a pretty low unemployment rate. Then there’s the northern part of the district…the people in that part of the district are struggling [and] maybe 90% of them are black. The schools are not being successful in that part of the district educating our children. The young men themselves don’t see education as a vehicle to take them to the places that they want to go…The thing that is going to work is getting the parents involved and the community involved.

RJ: When you were the CEO of Chicago Housing Authority, a lot of people were displaced and a lot of people lost their jobs.

PJ: It was national policy signed by Clinton, voted for by Congress.

RJ: Did you have any power?

PJ: Yes I had power to demand social services for the people in public housing, which I did. You know that this happened all over the country.

RJ: Why should people from public housing vote for you – they know you from when you ran Chicago’s public housing authority and many of them think that you are the cause of the buildings being demolished?

PJ: I’m not the cause of their problems – they had problems before I got there, when Vince [Lane] was there and when Joe [Shuldiner] was there, they still had problems.

In his concluding remarks, Jackson said African Americans have to create our own plans for our own communities.

“We have got to become the change – not you, not just me, but we!” Jackson said.

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