A 26-year-old Hispanic businessman and a woman who founded her own insurance company — both Democrats — are running in the primary against veteran Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.
“The people are ready for a change,” said Jorge Zavala, a businessman and son of Mexican immigrants.
Zavala said Gutierrez — who was first elected in 1993 — has been in the House too long. Gutierrez is pushing only for immigration reform legislation, which “leaves behind the more important issues in the 4th district,” Zavala said. He believes the most pressing problem in the district is that its borders have been gerrymandered.
The 4th District’s population is 75 percent Latino and immigrant, Zavala said.
“Immigration is good, but if we don’t have jobs, what is the point of bringing more people?” Zavala said, who is the first Democratic primary opponent that Gutierrez has had in 15 years.
The primaries are today, March 18.
Of the 712,964 people who live in the district, 44,808 are unemployed, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau study.
“Education is another concern since seven schools in the district were closed last year under the Chicago Public Schools closing plan,” Zavala said .
Zavala has not reported any campaign contributions to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and doesn’t have more than $5,000, he said. But companies and organizations in the district support him and contribute in other ways, according to Zavala.
Alexandra Eidenberg, is also running in the primary. A Columbia College graduate, Eidenberg worked at an insurance company for six years and then founded her own firm, The Insurance People.
A Mortgage Banker, Roberto Interiano contributed $100 to Eidenberg campaign.
“Unemployment is a big problem,” he said. “At work I hear so many people complaining of how hard is to find a job, and they have students loans.”
Eidenberg said she is also working to create more full-time jobs with benefits that pay more than minimum wage. Her campaign has so far raised $37,211, according to Opensecrets.org, a nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics.
In 2012, Republican Héctor Concepción ran against Gutierrez and lost by 83 percent. Concepción is running again this year, and he believes he will win.
While Gutierrez’s campaign contributions total $109,927 according to the Opensecrets.org, Concepción has drawn no contributions. He said he will start with $10,000 from his own pocket.
“Puerto Ricans, [65,000 of them] are marginalized,” said Concepcion, who, like Gutierrez, is Puerto Rican. “District 4 doesn’t have an immigrant problem. It has an unemployment problem.”
If Concepción wins the general election on Nov. 4, he will present a program called Hero, in which Black Wall Street Chicago, an organization that helps minorities on their emphasizes aspects to growth, is going to spend $200 million to open factories like Ford Motor Co. to create new jobs.
Gutierrez was not available for comment.
Carlos Alvarez, president and CEO of the National Congress of Hispanic American Citizens, said the conservative non-profit organization would help Concepción raise money for his campaign in April 23 because he is Hispanic.