“People want results.”

Shimkus and Dold 008 (2)Illinois Reps. Shimkus & Dold Discuss 2016 Political Environment & the Challenges Facing the People They Represent Back Home

WASHINGTON, DC – Two Congressmen from the State of Illinois appeared before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday morning to discuss the political environment heading into the 2016 election and some of the key challenges facing people in their home state this year.

The Congressmen were John Shimkus, who represents the 15th District of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Bob Dold, who represents the 10th District.  Shimkus kicked off the discussion by talking not only about his victory in the Illinois Republican primary on March 15th, but how this victory reinforced his desire to serve the people he represents.

“Never take your seat or the chance to serve your constituents for granted,” Shimkus stated, in recalling one of the main lessons he drew from the race.   “Always work hard and always be prepared, because we live in a very interesting time.  I’ve been in election cycles for more than 20 years.  And when you get an opponent who is somewhat credible, you have to check and see if you’ve got the fire in the belly to continue to serve.  I checked, and there is still a flame there.”

Shimkus, who captured this year’s primary with 61 percent of the vote, was first elected to the House in 1996.  The longest serving Republican in the Illinois delegation, he serves as Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.   Over the course of his career, he wrote such measures as the bill that created America’s 911 emergency network for wireless callers, and the legislation that placed heart defibrillators in America’s schools.  In the process, he also established a reputation as a hard-working, consensus-building lawmaker.

It is a quality, he noted, that seems to hold less importance in the anger-filled, Twitter-fueled political environment this year.

“There was a time in our party when we liked workhorses, not show horses,” the veteran legislator said.  “Today, it’s all about the show horses.  I think it’s because of the media now, and social media, and the pundits who scream and holler.  They aren’t really involved in the hard work of moving public policy forward.”

Dold echoed his colleague’s comment’s about this year’s political environment, and shared this thoughts on the reasons that the American people are upset.

“They feel that they’re falling behind,” he stated.  “They’re sitting at their kitchen tables and they’re taking a look at their bills and they’re making decisions about what to do and what to cut back on.  Real world wages are the same as they were eight years ago.  And yet the cost of food, the cost of higher education, the cost of health care, the uncertainty about retirement – people are saying ‘wait a second.’  For the first time ever in their lifetime, they’re actually concerned that their children have fewer opportunities than they had.  So this whole idea of the American dream, this whole idea of the American compact – that we leave the country stronger for the next generation – for the first time, it is potentially out of reach.  But I believe that our best days are ahead.”

Dold was elected to the House in 2014 after having previously served from 2011-2013.  A businessman before his election to office, he is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, where his focus has not only been on economic growth and job creation, but on serving the people he represents back home.

“In 2015, we did 550 events in our district, 721 cases of individuals who called into the office with a problem, and 26,000 constituent letters,” he remarked.  “There’s no doubt this is going to be a wild election.  But it’s going to largely be about constituent service and making sure that we’re listening to our constituents.  It’s going to be about what have you been able to do and what are you doing to break the gridlock.  People want results.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.