State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid (D-Bridgeview) is looking for a few good people to serve on new Citizens Advisory Councils that he is creating to advise him on four specific issue areas.
In his first term as a member of the Illinois General Assembly, Rashid is creating four Citizens Advisory Councils to advise him on education, immigrant rights, environmental issues and small business issues.
Members of these new councils must live or work in the 21st District, which includes substantial portions of Riverside, Brookfield and North Riverside.
“We’re launching our citizen advisory councils to get input and feedback from residents on what their recommendations are for my legislative agenda next year,” Rashid told the Landmark.
Rashid says that it is important that that he hears from constituents about issues that they care about.
“The crux of this is going to be that we actually get a real group of people and meet and discuss these issues,” Rashid said.
Rashid says that he envisions each advisory council to consist of perhaps five to 10 people, though he is not wedded to any particular number.
“I wouldn’t necessarily be looking to limit it if there is real interest,” Rashid said. “We’re still thinking through that, I don’t know that there is necessarily a limit. I do want a broad representation from the district.”
Anyone interested in serving on an advisory council can apply and express their interest by filling out a form on Rashid’s website at reprashid.com. Rashid said that he expects the councils to meet at least quarterly.
“I fully intend for it to be a really meaningful engagement,” Rashid said. “I don’t want this to be something that’s on paper and doesn’t actually help influence my policy agenda.”
Rashid recently completed his first legislative session in Springfield after being elected to office last November. He upset incumbent Mike Zalewski in the June Democratic primary and defeated Republican Matthew Schultz in the general election.
“It’s really wonderful [to be in office],” Rashid said. “We had a very productive session, passed a budget that’s both fiscally responsible and that uplifts working families by investing in education, health care and child care.”
But, being in office is different than campaigning.
“You have to govern with colleagues, including colleagues on the other side of the aisle and different branches of government,” Rashid said. “That involves compromise and that involves, you know, having to represent the district but also work with people who may have different ideas on how things should happen.
“That’s the nature of our democracy and it’s just been a really incredible experience seeing democracy in action in Springfield, and I’m very happy with the outcome of our session.”
Rashid pointed to laws passed to address gun control, reproductive rights, health care and education.
Next year, Rashid said he would like to see some reform of the Illinois property tax system. He said that while the General Assembly this session addressed an issue with tax sales, there is more to be done.
“[We need] to make sure that our assessment system is fair and that working class families and homeowners aren’t paying more property taxes than they should,” Rashid said. “I am hopeful that we’ll make more progress on this, but I do wish that had been done before we adjourned.”
In an issue dear to his heart, Rashid sponsored a bill that was passed that creates a new ethnic identity box on state forms those of Middle Eastern or North African ethnicity.
“It adds [those choices] to state forms so that we can count the Arab community and other minorities from the Middle East,” Rashid said.
On May 1, Rashid attended an event at the White House to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, the feast that celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“It was nice to see Muslim leaders from across the country, including Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and others,” Rashid said. “It was my first time in the White House, and really enjoyed the visit.”
Soon after the legislative session ended, Rashid received his MBA degree from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. He had been a student in the part-time evening program for the last few years.
“I studied economics and finance so that I could use those skills to contribute to our state’s prosperity and well-being,” said Rashid, who received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard.