Anderson makes another run for Congress
By Kalyn Belsha email@example.com September 25, 2013 6:30PM
Dennis Anderson, a Democrat from Gurnee, announced on Aug. 18 he would run for Illinois' 14th congressional district seat in 2014. | Submitted
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:15AM
ST. CHARLES — A Democrat from Gurnee who was defeated by U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren in last year’s 14th District congressional election recently announced he plans to run for the seat again in 2014.
Dennis Anderson, 62, is vying for a district that includes parts of Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles and Sandwich.
Last year Anderson received 41 percent of votes there, or 53,000 fewer than Hultgren.
That was Anderson’s first campaign, he said, and this time around he’s hoping to drum up more volunteers, raise more funds and face off against his opponent in debates.
“One of the… mistakes I made was not getting around to all the parts of the district as frequently as I should have, or as publicly,” Anderson said in an interview. “I need to have more public forums.”
Anderson predicts that by next year, voters — even those in this traditionally Republican-voting district — will be ready for a new face that hasn’t contributed to the partisan gridlock plaguing Washington.
“There hasn’t been movement in Congress,” Anderson said. “I think people are tired of it.”
In his campaign announcement, Anderson hinted at the recent blurring of lines between Democrats and Republicans in the district, saying: “My campaign recognizes that the average Republican — the kind of Republican that my parents were — is not so different than the average Democrat.”
Hultgren, a Republican, has represented Illinois’ 14th District since he won it in a 2010 race against then-incumbent Bill Foster, a Democrat and now the 11th district representative. That was a close match, with Hultgren winning by about 14,000 votes.
Foster was the first Democrat to take the district for some time. Before Foster won it in a 2008 special election, U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert, a Republican and former Speaker of the House, had occupied the seat for two decades.
Anderson said his lack of party ties is one of his strong suits.
“I’m not beholden to anyone, as a new candidate,” he said. “I’ve not being doing this for 20-something years. I will tell people what I think.”
Anderson grew up in Wisconsin, moving a few times — to Washington, Georgia and West Africa — when his father received a new military post.
He spent much of his career working in public health and academia.
He worked for Wisconsin’s division of health for about 14 years, he said, on programs involving maternal and child health, cancer control, heart health and refugee and immigrant health.
He also has worked for the University of Wisconsin, where he oversaw a breast cancer study, and at Loyola University Health System’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, where he helped find research funding and assisted faculty with grant applications.
Anderson is building his campaign around issues he thinks district residents don’t hear enough about: assisting those below the poverty line in the district, finding funds to repair infrastructure and pay for more preschool education, supporting community colleges and tech schools and leveraging existing federal legislation to create jobs in the district.
He’s a supporter of the Senate immigration bill that passed in June, which would overhaul federal immigration law and provide many who entered the country illegally with a path to citizenship.
Anderson said the district should be able to attract new companies or encourage existing ones to expand because of its proximity to Chicago and the transportation infrastructure and financial resources that come with that.
“The 14th District has railroads and a canal system and the port of Chicago,” Anderson said. “This is where the workers are. You’ve got workers out here looking for work, and you’ve got space to develop new facilities. These things could be done, but you need to get local municipalities and education institutions and venture capitalists together to talk…”
He said he’d use his time in office to connect members of the community in his district with one other to facilitate partnerships.
Anderson said he hopes voters will value his ability to compromise and make decisions based on facts, not party rhetoric.
“I’m not ideological,” he said. “I’m a great believer in discussion and debate. If I were elected, everyone in that House could find they could carry on a discussion with me.”