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Jan Schakowsky

(1944 - )

Jan Schakowsky was elected to represent Illinois’ 9th Congressional District on November 3, 1998, after serving for eight years in the Illinois State Assembly. The 9th Congressional District encompasses city and suburbs, including the North Lakeshore of Chicago, Evanston, Skokie, Niles, Morton Grove and several Northwest Side neighborhoods.  Schakowsky ran undefeated in the 2014 primary and defeated Republican candidate Susanne Atanus in the general election. 

A consumer and senior citizen advocate, grassroots organizer, and elected public official, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky has fought throughout her career for economic and social justice and improved quality of life for all. She is committed to universal health care coverage for all Americans, to national investment in public education, and to issues affecting seniors, working families, and women.

In her first year in office, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call recognized her as a legislator who “segued easily from state to national politics and is utterly unafraid to take on anyone at any time in fighting for her issues.” Schakowsky has emerged as a leader on Capitol Hill on many fronts, and is identified in Washington as a Representative who is willing to stand up to special interests. Roll Call newspaper selected Schakowsky “A Next Generation of Hill Leaders” and “one of the stars of the freshman class” for her energy and strategic skills.

A champion for the nation’s seniors, Schakowsky is actively engaged in the national campaign to give 39 million senior citizens and persons with disabilities access to affordable prescription drugs. Schakowsky is also working to ensure that seniors receive quality home, hospice, and nursing home care.

A longtime consumer advocate, who in 1969 led the fight that put freshness dates on products sold in the supermarket, Schakowsky carries on that tradition in Congress. She introduced the Financial Consumers’ Bill of Rights Act, a comprehensive bill to put an end to ATM surcharges and exorbitant bank fees, and to deliver real financial privacy protections for consumers. She also proposed a bill to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

In her first term in office, she was successful in including provisions in major legislation to expand housing opportunities for low-income people and to assist small business owners and farmers. She is an active member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and is a champion of expanding our nations’ hate crime laws. Following the vicious hate crimes committed against her constituents and others over the 4th of July weekend in 1999, her bill condemning acts of hate was passed by the full House.

She is a powerful voice for protecting children and putting an end to the epidemic of gun violence. In 1999, she organized the first national women’s forum on gun safety in Chicago and is working against the gun lobby to pass sensible gun safety measures that would save lives. Schakowsky also introduced major bills to increase federal assistance for abused women and children and to protect the rights of battered immigrant women.

With three district offices in Chicago, Evanston, and Niles, and a dedicated team of constituent advocates, Schakowsky is working to deliver to the people of the 9th Congressional District superior constituent services and a powerful voice when dealing with federal agencies. Representing one of the most diverse districts in the nation, Schakowsky immediately took on the Immigration and Naturalization Service on behalf of her constituents in order to bring to an end the agency’s culture of the “customer is always wrong.”

In Washington, Schakowsky serves on the House Banking and Financial Services and Government Reform Committees. She was elected to a leadership position of Freshman Whip and selected to be a floor Whip, where she helps coordinate and rally votes on key issues. Schakowsky is a member of the Health Care and Medicare Task Forces.

Prior to her election to Congress, Schakowsky represented the 18th District in the Illinois General Assembly for eight years. She chaired the Labor and Commerce Committee, and served on the Human Service Appropriations, Health Care, and the Electric Deregulation Committees. She also served as a Democratic Floor Leader and as Secretary of the Conference of Women Legislators.

As a State Representative, Jan Schakowsky sponsored and passed many important measures, including bills to strengthen the Hate Crimes Act and nursing home protections; to increase support for public libraries, day care centers and home delivered meals for seniors; to allow parents leave from work for school conferences; and the first bill in the nation guaranteeing homeless people the right to vote.

For twenty years prior to her election to the State House, Schakowsky fought for the public interest and rights of Illinois citizens. In 1969, as a consumer advocate, she began the fight that put freshness dates on products sold in the supermarket. As Program Director of Illinois Public Action, the state’s largest public interest organization, she fought for energy reform and stronger protection from toxic chemicals. As Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens from 1985-1990, she organized across the state for lower cost prescription drugs and tax relief for seniors, financial protection for the spouses of nursing home residents and other benefits for the elderly. She has been deeply involved in the fight to protect women’s reproductive freedom.

U.S. Representative Schakowsky is on the Midwest Governing Council of the Jewish Congress, and is a member of the Labor Union UNITE! and a number of grassroots and civic organizations. She also serves on the Advisory Council of the Board of Directors of Palliative Care Center of the North Shore. Schakowsky resides in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Robert Creamer. She has three children, Ian, Mary, and stepdaughter Lauren Creamer, and two granddaughters, Isabel and Eve. She was graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.

Sources: Congressman Jan Schakowsky