Candidate Profile from Congressional QuarterlyJanice D. "Jan" Schakowsky (D) of Evanston
The reputation that Schakowsky has as a fighter for progressive values has been honed for more than 25 years.
As a housewife and new mother in the early 1970s, she helped launch a successful nationwide campaign to require freshness dates on food products. Following her work for consumer and senior citizen advocacy groups, she was elected to the state House, where she fought for union rights, expanded family leave benefits and changes in medical insurance law sought by consumer groups.
In a fight against what she called "drive-through" mastectomies, she was quoted by the Associated Press as warning health insurance organizations that, "If we have to, we are going to regulate body part by body part if they continue to abuse patients.'
Because of this district's lopsided Democratic tilt, Schakowsky has had months to prepare to be only its third representative in half a century.
Hoping to continue her work on health issues, she has come to Washington several times to lobby not only for a coveted seat on the Commerce Committee, but also for assignment to its Health and the Environment Subcommittee. She has called Medicare a "spectacular success" and wants to expand it to pay the medical bills of all Americans.
Schakowsky considers Social Security to be "one of the most successful government initiatives in our history" and supports a voluntary supplementary program that would extend the system's benefits while avoiding privatization.
She also supports extensive gun control and supports alternative sentencing for non-violent criminals in order to alleviate prison crowding.