Stepping from beyond the shadow of a larger than life figure in Chicago’s Civil Rights history can be a daunting task for anyone, but Flynn Rush, a son of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, is up for the challenge as he pursues a seat in Springfield representing the 25th district of Illinois.
“I’m proud of what my father has accomplished but I have my own set of footprints,” said Flynn Rush. “I’ve got my own blueprint that God gave me. I stand on the shoulders of my father and people like Fred Hampton, Sr., Huey P. Newton, Harold Washington, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and of course, Dr. King and Malcolm X. I stand on those individuals’ shoulders who have paved the way for myself and many others.”
Rush told stories about how growing up while within the 25th district he witnessed firsthand the impact politics can have on the surrounding community from watching his father in action. With a drive to support his own community, the Hyde Park HS alumnus said he planned to run against the incumbent State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie in 2016 before ultimately deciding not to pursue a full campaign. Now following the announcement of Currie’s plans to retire, he said it’s his time to pursue state office.
“Times have changed; it’s a different time, different space than when she was first in office,” said Rush.
Rush made his platform of community first leadership crystal clear when speaking with the Defender.
“My three major points to my campaign are: inclusiveness, transparency and accountability,” said Rush. “It’s all about being inclusive and that’s including the community, and when I’m state representative including [others] to have a seat at the table and see what their needs are and what their cares are, wants are. Although there are many complex issues in the 25th, my plan is simple: put the interests of the people first.”
When discussing the incoming Obama Presidential Library, Rush stated he supports a community benefits agreement. Keeping with his platform of inclusiveness, he hopes the community voices will be invited to the dialogue about the future of their communities.
“I definitely believe with the Obama Library it needs the community benefits agreement,” said Rush. “I think the community needs a place at the table from every aspect from the coming of that library to the 25th district. They need to be inclusive.”
In an effort to gauge the community’s feelings on the prospective improvements to the South Shore golf course, Rush attended a recent community hearing held at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.
“There’s a lot of talk with the PGA golf course, and when speaking with the residents last night a lot of them are for it and others think it’s a tool for displacement,” said Rush. “They too need a seat at the table. I just think it needs to be an effort that the Obama Foundation looks at the residents first.”
Rush referred to the 25th district as a “tale of two communities” given the different economic engines (or lack thereof) within the 25th district when comparing the northern and southern portions. He said he intends to recruit businesses to come throughout the area to spur economic development. Specifically, he told the Defender he intends to work with the alderman and the community at-large to bring a new grocery store to the currently vacant lot at Jeffery Plaza, 2101 E. 71st St., where a Dominick’s previously resided.
“They haven’t had a viable grocery store where residents can get fresh fruits and vegetables and meats and things in the community… you have to go out further south,” said Rush. “The South Shore [community] is so rich in land, rich in culture; it’s really a great neighborhood. I think from the neglect is where we see the demise, we see the hopelessness that resides there now.”
Environmental issues were of concern to Rush as well. With regards to the manganese issues being reported on the southern side of the district, the candidate said he would like to sit down with the companies involved, community members, and alderman to find a viable solution.
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