Indian American political candidate for General Assembly in Illinois' 8th Legislative District Ram Villivalam has been endorsed by Chicago daily newspaper the Chicago Tribune.
The publication announced the endorsement of Villivalam over incumbent Sen. Ira Silverstein for the district's March 20 primary election in an editorial published Feb. 22.
The piece said that, of the 39 seats up for grabs, only five — including the 8th District — have contested primaries.
It noted that throughout the endorsement process, "We have tried to select candidates — yes, some incumbents included — who demonstrate independence, policy chops and vigor. Change agents."
The Tribune said that the veteran incumbent of 19 years Silverstein was poised to be a shoo-in for the spot, but then a female activist working with him to pass legislation accused him of sexual harassment.
"A report cleared Silverstein of the charge but also described his conduct as 'unbecoming of a legislator.' Yet Senate president John Cullerton still is backing Silverstein. We’re not," the Tribune wrote.
Villivalam, a former legislative coordinator for Service Employees International Union, is policy-proficient, engaged and prepared to push back against the Democrat establishment, the editorial said.
"They’re both strong contenders, but Villivalam’s policy chops give him the edge," it said.
Villivalam, who lives in Chicago, Ill., where he was born, graduated from Lincoln Park High School in 2005 and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in political science and government from The George Washington University in 2009 (see India-West article here).
Villivalam is a proud board member of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC and the Indo American Democratic Organization, his campaign noted.
He believes Illinois needs a new generation of diverse leaders who are progressive and effective; legislators who lead on the issues, and who listen to and truly represent their communities, it added.
The Indian American has a plethora of issues he intends to tackle throughout his campaign and in office, if elected.
He boasts that he'll work on creating tax fairness, safe communities, education and minimum wage. Additionally, he intends to work on healthcare, the environment, LGBTQ rights, women's rights, college affordability and immigration.
Villivalam’s career experience includes working as a consultant with SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, where he has served since February 2015.
He also served as program director of Experience DC and followed that by working in the Brad Schneider for Congress 2012 campaign in Illinois, serving as deputy campaign manager and field director, then political director. Prior to working at SEIU, Villivalam was director of outreach for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois.