Candidates Believe They Have Experience to Legislate
Sheyman, Schneider and Bavda plan to translate their experiences into crafting effective legislation as they seek opportunity to challenge Dold.
Bringing diverse backgrounds to the campaign, the candidates facing off in the March 20 Democratic primary to earn the right to try to challenge Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) all plan to use those experiences to be effective legislators.
All three—Deerfield management consultant Brad Schneider, 50, Waukegan community organizer Ilya Sheyman, 25, and Mundelein attorney Vivek Bavda, 34—come to the race with a similar idea of how to get legislation passed.
“Organizing around issues is what I’ve done my whole career,” Sheyman said. “I’ve been bringing people together on health care and funding for public schools,” he added referring to his efforts for MoveOn.org.
Sheyman knows gathering enough support to pass legislation may be no easy task. Though he believes the Democrats will take a majority in the new Congress he is prepared if he must to push his agenda as a member of the minority.
Sheyman realizes he may have to use his organizing skills to persuade members who do not see things his way.
“It’s a simple idea. You want government to be on your side,” Sheyman said. “We’ll bring people who can make a difference to Washington to bring a message to leadership.” He would bring the constituents of those opposed to his ideas to lobby their legislators.
Bavda, who was a consultant and employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago among other things before going to law school in 2006, had to work with diverse groups and believes he can do the same as a member of Congress.
“I had to build a coalition for stem cell research in Missouri,” Bavda said. “I had to learn what diverse organizations had in common to show them what kind of problems they faced (together). I know how to build consensus.”
Schneider brings 27 years of experience as a management consultant to the table where he was the arbiter of groups within an organization. He helped them find common goals and accept them to benefit an organization.
“My experience as a consultant prepares me very well,” Schneider said. “I ask questions and dig deeper into an issue to address a problem. This allows them (opponents of an idea) to move from their position.”
Schneider has already had experience working with members of Congress through his experience with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other organizations. He has actively lobbied federal legislators for a stronger relationship between Israel and the United States.
In 2000 Schneider was part of AIPAC’s New Leadership Network as a volunteer. He was raising money for members of Congress and candidates and developing relationships to explain the state of affairs in the Middle East. Then Rep. Barron Hill (D-IN) was part of Schneider’s responsibility.
“He thought (the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser) Arafat was a man of peace,” Schneider said. “Two years later I got a letter from Barron Hill telling me Arafat was a terrorist. He wrote he was communicating that to President (George) Bush,” he added explaining sometimes it takes time to get a message across.
Both Schneider and Sheyman support President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act but want to see more done to put Americans back to work. Though Sheyman considers it a “first step” he believes his commitment to rebuild the American middle class requires bolder action.
“We need to pass a new jobs bill that will put a million people to work now,” Sheyman said. He favors legislation introduced in August by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus designed to do that.
Sheyman has been endorsed by three members of that group. They are Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago) along with the two chairmen, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ).
Schneider, who has been endorsed by state Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) and state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), thinks a long term review of American infrastructure needs is the answer.
“We need a 50-year vision for our infrastructure looking at the (power) grid, transportation and our schools,” Schneider said. He thinks futuristic thinking will provide a better return on investment for the country.