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Castro For Congress, Gutierrez For Congress


Castro For U.S. Congress

March 6, 2002
Copyright © 2002
Chicago Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

Successful challenges to incumbent congressmen are as rare as hens' teeth, which is just one reason why it is encouraging to see Rep. Luis Gutierrez have to break a sweat in the Democratic primary in the 4th District.

Gutierrez has been the representative of this district ever since it was created to provide an opportunity for Hispanic candidates. He has not had a strong challenge in eight years, and he has started to take his constituents for granted.

While Gutierrez has carved out a national role as leader of the Hispanic caucus, he has been ineffective as a lawmaker. He "has been more a commentator than a legislative craftsman,' said the authoritative and nonpartisan Almanac of American Politics.

In other words, he's on the outside looking in.

While Gutierrez was grabbing lots of camera time with his protests against U.S. military use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques , attorney Martin Castro was back home, building an impressive resume of community activism.

Growing up in Chicago, Castro's life was a series of firsts--the first in his immigrant family to finish high school, to go to college, to graduate from law school. He has given back to the community by getting involved in a wide array of public service causes--including working to prevent neighborhood violence, help battered women, protect immigrants rights, ensure legal help to the poor, serve cultural organizations and make sure Chicago's libraries are connected to the Internet.

Castro, who is Mexican-American, knows what the district's residents want--better access to education, technology and health care, help in reducing school drop-out rates and preventing violence. Castro has made the case that he would be a more effective congressman for the folks at home, and he is endorsed. A third candidate, John Holowinski, is running.


Gutierrez For U.S. Congress

March 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Chicago Sun-Times, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Luis Gutierrez has been a strong advocate for his district, a vigorous player in Congress and deserves to be returned for another term.

His critics complain, with some cause, that Gutierrez sometimes acts like he believes his district is in Puerto Rico .

Gutierrez represents the 4th District, has for 10 years, and despite his agitation over the future of the naval range at Vieques and independence for Puerto Rico , he has done a good job for his constituents in Chicago.

Certainly, few in his district seem to mind their congressman's consuming interest in an island thousands of miles away. Labor unions love him. He is a rare congressional advocate for the rights of immigrants, and he has been extremely pro-active in promoting education and transportation legislation that benefits his constituents.

This does not take anything away from Marty Castro, an intelligent and able Mexican-American businessman who is perhaps the strongest opponent Gutierrez has yet faced.

Castro has done much for his community and will continue to do so, and should have a bright political career. But if he wanted to take Gutierrez's seat away, he needed to mobilize discontent in his district, a task that might have been impossible because, judging from this campaign, there was not a lot of discontent to tap into because of the good work done by Gutierrez.

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