6th District changes do not bother Pekau or Casten
By Jeff Vorva
The Illinois 6th Congressional District has been re-aligned but that doesn’t bother the two guys running for Congress.
The district includes all or parts of Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Park, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills, Evergreen Park, Worth, Chicago Ridge, Palos Hills Bridgeview, Bedford Park, Willow Springs, Countryside, Hodgkins, and portions of Chicago’s Clearing and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods.
But it also blossoms out to places such as Elmhurst, Lombard, Downers Grove and Darien.
Republican Keith Pekau, 56, the mayor of Orland Park, said he has no problem adjusting to the new boundaries since he has never run for Congress before. When he announced he was running for Congress last November, he said the makeup is a “pretty fair district.”
Democrat Sean Casten, 50, who is currently the congressman in the district, which branches out to the northwest suburbs, is also non-plussed about the changes.
“I had never run before and in 2018, I had to figure out and tell my story and connect with 100% of a new district with people I haven’t seen before or met before,” Casten said. “I had to figure out what mattered to them to win an election.
“Coming into this cycle where 75% of the district is new seems pretty easy,” he joked.
He said this new “refreshing and beautiful” version of the 6th District is more ethnic and economically diverse but “I don’t want to re-district every year.”
To get to the Nov. 8 finals, Pekau fended off five other primary candidates while Casten beat out 3rd District incumbent Marie Newman.
Pekau’s top issues are keeping families safe and neighborhoods secure, growing the economy to create good-paying middle-class jobs and fighting inflation to bring fiscal responsibility to Washington.
He has also been strongly against the state’s Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today act, also known as the SAFE-T Act, fearing that too many kidnappers, rapists and murders will be allowed to roam the streets free.
Casten’s top issues are broad.
“I’ve spent my entire life focused on climate change,” he said. “It’s an existential threat. We have a massive opportunity to reduce the emissions and save money. I’ve proud to play a significant role in passing the biggest climate bill in this country’s history.”
He’s also been knocking on doors and hearing “massive fear” of the Dobbs decision taking away rights to abortion. He has publicly called on Congress to protect abortion rights.
At this point, there has been a little bit of ill-will in this campaign, but it hasn’t been overwhelming. Both candidates believe they are running for the right reasons.
“This is going to sound very boy scout-y but the truth of the matter is that most of what we do in congress affects every American,” Casten said. “We work to support the interest of our district but most of what we do affects every American.”
Pekau said his first foray into congressional politics has been tough at times but met some good people along the way.
“I’ve been able to meet some candidates around the country that are running among various events in D.C.,” Pekau said. “It is amazing the quality of candidates and their backgrounds. They have diverse backgrounds, and their diverse experiences will make them good members of congress.
“They don’t have to do this. We’ve seen candidates that all they have ever done is run for office and their whole life is politics. These people come from all different walks of life. They are doing this to serve the country, they are not doing this for some other big reason.”
Early voting started this week in the November 8 election.
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