Chris Harris wants to fight 'machine politics' in 7th District
Chris Harris, a former Forest Park elected official, is running for state representative in the 7th District, and pledges “to return the office to the people.”
Unsatisfied with Emanuel "Chris" Welch, the current 7th District representative, Harris wants to contribute to changing the conditions that plague the district, especially with regards to economic development and education.
Harris served on the village council as an independent voice to fight “machine politics,” which he argues Welch is a part of.
“My desire to run for the 7th District seat is fueled by the condition of the state of Illinois, the current leadership of our district and that leadership's inattention to the issues of our district.” Harris recently told West Cook News.
Harris called Welch out for mostly ignoring the needs of their district.
“Our district has suffered from a lack of attention from our representative when it comes to most subjects, but two that certainly stand out are economic development and education," Harris said. "In his two terms, our representative has done nothing when it comes to working for or aiding local municipalities in the recruitment or development of business in our district.”
Harris said he himself has done more for business development in the 7th District than his opponent.
“I have done more in my time on the Forest Park village council to bring business to the area and retain business in the area by working with and, most importantly, talking to and recruiting business and commerce,” Harris said. “Businesses bring jobs and lead to additional commerce to support those workers.”
Welch has been a failure across the board, Harris argues.
“From the car dealerships to the bars and restaurants I worked with, you have to be active and working for improvement and, sadly, Rep. Welch has failed miserably in this area," Harris said. "He has also brought nothing in the way of incentives from Springfield nor had a creative solution for these suffering towns.”
Harris is particularly dissatisfied with the current office and education.
“Mr. Welch's record on education has been an ongoing, literal, 15-year disaster that sold out the families of this district," Harris said. "From his time as (Proviso Township High Schools District 209) Board of Education President to now, he has constantly ignored the children, selling them out by using D209 as his own personal contract warehouse, giving no-bid contracts to friends, hiring friends and family, and using taxpayer dollars to pay his own personal legal fees.”
Harris makes it clear that he and Welch differ greatly, first and foremost because he is not a “shill for the lobbyists and special interest that donate to him in five-figure sums,” he said.
“My first and only obligation is to the people of the 7th District, not the corporations that finance campaigns for automatic votes in their interest,” he said. “And, on a specific note, when it comes to education, we differ greatly. I think we should open and explore any option that can give our kids an opportunity at a quality education. As the record has shown, Mr. Welch has failed miserably in this area, putting money and politics before our kids.”
Harris recently wrote a January op-ed piece for OakPark.com.
“I have built a business, I have had to fight for jobs—I know what it takes," Harris wrote. "It is shameful that Rep. Welch hasn't introduced one idea that would help our district. I propose a districtwide economic development team to nurture and develop business in the area. I would expand enterprise zones that would help commerce deprived roads like Roosevelt, Lake St. and St. Charles that run through multiple towns in our district.”
With regards to why he felt compelled to run, Harris said, “A man with a resume as destructive as Representative Chris Welch’s should not run unopposed… . I watched from the sidelines for years as I saw our state and area governments fail us. I saw a system devised that benefited a few and threw the common man aside. It irked me, and it still does.”