Some suburbanites will be virtual State of the Union guests

  • Pete Olson, Antioch resident and Lake County labor union leader

    Pete Olson, Antioch resident and Lake County labor union leader

  • Child care worker Laura Maldonado of Chicago will be a virtual guest for the 2022 State of the Union address.

    Child care worker Laura Maldonado of Chicago will be a virtual guest for the 2022 State of the Union address. Courtesy of U.S. Rep. Marie Newman's office

  • Maria Bandriwsky, of Park Ridge, will be a virtual guest for the State of the Union

    Maria Bandriwsky, of Park Ridge, will be a virtual guest for the State of the Union

  • Lauren Brundage of Crystal Lake will be the virtual guest of 14th District Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Naperville Democrat, at Tuesday's State of the Union address.

    Lauren Brundage of Crystal Lake will be the virtual guest of 14th District Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Naperville Democrat, at Tuesday's State of the Union address. Courtesy of Rep. Lauren Underwood's office

 
 
Updated 3/1/2022 8:48 AM
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Maj. Gen. Richard Neely's responsibilities.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing congressional representatives and senators from bringing guests to President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address, some Chicago-area residents will be virtual guests of the Illinois delegation.

Labor leader Pete Olson of Antioch will watch the speech as a virtual guest of U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat serving the 10th District.

 

Olson is the business representative for Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local 130 and president of the Lake County Building and Construction Trades Council. He was selected for the honor to bring attention to jobs being created through the recently enacted federal infrastructure improvement law.

"Our unions are ready to get to work, and I am happy to join Congressman Schneider for the State of the Union this year to hear what President Biden has to say about this historic investment in our infrastructure and job growth," Olson said in a news release from Schneider's office.

Crystal Lake resident Lauren Brundage will be the virtual guest of 14th District Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Naperville Democrat.

Brundage, a kindergarten teacher at Woods Creek Elementary School in Crystal Lake, has advocated for better family and medical leave policies in her school district and elsewhere, an Underwood spokeswoman said.

Those efforts led to policy change in her district's contract with teachers, the spokeswoman said.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat representing the 9th District, has invited Skokie resident Sima Quraishi, executive director of the Muslim Women Resource Center, as her virtual guest for the speech.

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Quraishi's organization, based on Chicago's North Side, has helped resettle Afghan refugees in the area following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Chicago child care worker Laura Maldonado will observe the speech as a virtual guest of U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, a La Grange Democrat who represents the 3rd District but, following district boundary changes, is running for election in the 6th this year.

Maldonado supports the child care provisions in the economic stimulus and jobs legislation known as the Build Back Better Act. Newman voted for the legislation in November, and it passed the House.

"I am honored to serve as Congresswoman Newman's virtual guest to the State of the Union as we both share a collective vision for a high-quality, affordable child care system that is designed for parents to thrive in their communities," Maldonado said in a news release from Newman's office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Venya Sharma, a sophomore at Fremd High School in Palatine, will watch the speech as a virtual guest of 6th District Rep. Sean Casten, a Downers Grove Democrat.

Sharma, of Palatine, is a climate activist who started her own podcast to call for climate action, environmental protection and investments in clean energy innovation, a Casten spokeswoman said. She's also involved in a program Casten launched for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Chicago serving the 5th District, invited Park Ridge resident Maria Solomia Bandriwsky, a health care worker who's also an American Ukrainian Youth Association board member.

U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Schaumburg Democrat serving the 8th District, didn't invite a guest this year. Neither did U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat serving the 11th District.

As for the Senate, Springfield Democrat Dick Durbin invited three virtual guests: Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry Jr., Chicago union business manager Don Finn and Christine Morris, the site manager at Heartland Health Services in Peoria.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates asked Maj. Gen. Richard Neely, Illinois' adjutant general and the director of the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, to be her virtual guest for the address. He leads both the Illinois Army and Air National Guard.

President Biden didn't deliver a State of the Union speech in 2021. Then new to the Oval Office, he gave his first joint address to Congress in April. Lawmakers were present but their guests attended virtually.

• Daily Herald staff writers Eric Peterson, Christopher Placek, Marni Pyke and Katlyn Smith contributed to this report.

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