Keith Pekau: 2022 candidate for U.S. House 6th District
Office sought: U.S. House 6th District
City: Orland Park
Occupation: Mayor of Orland Park & Small Business Owner
Previous offices held: Mayor of Orland Park
What needs to be done to get Congress to work constructively, whether that be senators and representatives of both parties working with each other or Congress itself working with the president?
Congress needs to put people over politics and prioritize commonsense solutions over partisan games. Elected officials need to stop worrying about personal political gains, party agendas and special interests and come together for meaningful solutions.
As Mayor of Orland Park, the village board and I put our political differences aside and worked together to make Orland Park better. If elected to Congress, I will work with anyone who puts people over politics and supports commonsense solutions to problems like skyrocketing inflation, our struggling economy, and rising crime.
What is your position on changing voter access?
These are state issues and I support states handling this as they see fit with their constituents.
I want every eligible voter to have easy access to voting, and I want every voter to know their vote is sacred, only legal U.S. citizens to vote and for every voter to know their vote will be counted among only legitimate votes. Just like we need IDs for many uses in our daily lives, voting should be one of them to restore trust in the voting system. We need to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. Election integrity should be a bipartisan issue.
Do you recognize that the election of Joe Biden as president in 2020 was legitimate and fair? If not, why?
Joe Biden is the President. However, I also believe that we should do more to strengthen the integrity of our elections so that everyone trusts the results. My focus is on how President Biden and the Democrats have led the nation since taking power. Their reckless spending has led to the highest inflation since 1980, and as a result working families are struggling to keep up. Everything is more expensive, including groceries, gas, utilities, and even eating at restaurants. This has a real impact on people's lives. We need to stop spending more than we bring in, lower taxes, and address the national debt. I've led by example as Mayor of Orland Park -- I cut spending, balanced the budget, paid down debt, and lowered taxes. In just one term, I cut operating expenses by 14%, paid down over $50 million in debt, and lowered property tax rates by 30%, all while more than doubling investments in the village's infrastructure. This is the fiscally responsible leadership I will bring to Congress.
What, if anything, should Congress do to prevent another violent attack such as the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol?
This speaks to a much larger issue of increased crime and violence across the country, especially here in Chicagoland. Crimes need to be prosecuted swiftly and the persons accused of those crimes deserve a fair and speedy trial by a jury of their peers. Convicted criminals need to be held accountable for their actions. With record crime levels in the US and Chicago and State's Attorney Kim Foxx letting violent criminals run free, suburban families are seeing frightening increases of crime in our once-peaceful communities. I will fight to keep families safe and our neighborhoods secure. Americans shouldn't have to live in fear. In Orland Park, we're fighting back by holding criminals accountable for their actions. We've reduced crime to the lowest rate in 27 years. With the lowest violent crime rate of cities over 50,000 in Illinois, Orland Park was rated the safest city in Illinois in 2020 -- despite being mostly in Cook County. I will bring this same common sense approach to Washington.
What do you consider America's role in world affairs? In particular, what should our role be regarding current points of tension involving Russia/Ukraine, the future of Taiwan or other threats of Chinese expansionism and the Middle East?
There are three legs to foreign policy -- diplomacy, economy, and military force. While the US is the leader of the free world, we should only involve ourselves if our national interests or our nation's security is at stake. I've served in the Air Force, including 1,500 hours of flight time, 45 combat sorties, and 150 combat hours over Southern Iraq -- I know what is at stake and I know we have the strongest military in the world who will
defend our national security and the safety of our allies and partners. We must be willing but reluctant to use military force and only use it when it is absolutely necessary. We've seen why it's critical to our national security and interest to focus on being energy independent. When we rely on other countries, we are playing into their hand, leaving our residents to foot the bill for increased costs. We also need to hold countries accountable, especially China, when they try to push global economic policies that hurt American businesses and workers.
Do you acknowledge humans' role in causing climate change? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
The earth's climate has always changed, even prior to humans. Humans, given the exploding population, have an impact on the environment in which we live. We all want clean air, water, and a healthy planet. Most of us also want the comforts of modern living that technological advancements have made possible. The challenges we face can be solved. To start with, we need to become more energy independent as a nation, including we should continue our private sector energy efficiency efforts. Energy security equals national security and for this reason, America must be energy independent. This requires using all of our resources. We should be investing in clean coal technologies while also augmenting our baseload power generation with renewable energy such as solar. Geothermal and hydroelectric power are also a part of the solution. We must also invest in nuclear power as it is the cleanest source of baseload power and the US has had only one nuclear reactor go online in the last 25 years.
Please define your position on health care reform, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.
We need increased price transparency in our healthcare system because costs are unacceptably high in the US. Equipping Americans with this knowledge and empowering them to make smart decisions that reward them for choosing high quality but more affordable care options is a common-sense way to drive down health care costs through the free market. We also must ensure our veterans have access to the highest quality healthcare. Far too often our veterans are left behind when they are the ones we should be supporting the most. As a small business owner, my healthcare plan was eliminated due to the ACA and healthcare costs became unaffordable. A better solution would be to allow more competition across state lines and to allow small businesses and individuals to join together to create larger groups. This would not only lower costs, but provide access to better care. Finally, I support solutions that give Americans choices and access to the highest quality care.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? Does the government have any responsibility toward Dreamers who were brought to the United States illegally as children and are now adults? How will these policies affect your district?
As a proud American, I think we all agree that we can't fault anyone for wanting to live in the best country on earth. However, it is simply irresponsible and impossible for us to not follow our immigration laws. Before addressing "Dreamers" or anyone else currently residing illegally in our country, we must stop illegal immigration by controlling our borders and implementing a better visa system so that visas are not over stayed. If, and only if this happens first, I support addressing the issue of those who already reside in the United States, including Dreamers. As part of this, we must also ensure that going forward our immigration system prioritizes those who go through the process legally and who bring needed skills to the United States economy and work force. The 6th District is one of the most diverse in the Chicagoland area, and I believe every community is better off welcoming legal immigration because it makes everything from our neighborhoods to schools to economy stronger.