Abdelnasser Rashid

Abdelnasser Rashid

Third time’s a charm for Rashid as he wins 21st House seat

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By Bob Bong

The third time on the ballot was magical for Abdelnasser Rashid on Tuesday.

Rashid, 33, was making his third attempt for elected office in the race for Illinois House District 21. He had lost a primary challenge in 2020 to Tammy Wendt for the Board of Tax Review and in 2018 narrowly lost a bid for the Cook County Board to Republican Sean Morrison in the 17th District.

He easily won election over Matthew Schultz. Complete but unofficial results in the suburban portion of the district showed Rashid with 13,223 votes to 6,322 for Schultz. With one city precinct still out, Schultz was leading 1,221 to 927.

For the first time in more than a decade, voters in the district were electing a new face to send to the General Assembly in Springfield.

Longtime lawmaker Michael Zalewski was defeated in the Democratic primary by Rashid who was facing Republican challenger Matthew Schultz on Tuesday.

“We did it! You did it,” he said Wednesday morning. “I’m proud to share that the results are in and it is my great honor to be the representative-elect for the 21st District of Illinois.

“It was my passion to fight for fairness and for equity that led me to run for public office and to give back to the community, state and country that gave me so much.

“We never gave up. We win with the strength of our diversity and our authenticity.

“I know that as we celebrate today, there is serious trouble in our politics. There is fear; there is pain, and there are grave threats to the future of our democracy. In times like these, it’s more important than ever to roll up our sleeves and get to work to build the kind of community we want to see for ourselves and our children.

“We’re successful today because we ran a grassroots campaign that not only spoke to people, but also listened to them. We offered people a vision with real ideas tackling the pressing challenges of our time. In the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on earth, it is not too much to ask that working families be able to live a life of dignity and retire in dignity; that everyone have access to quality healthcare; that a woman’s right to choose be respected and protected; that we get weapons of war off our streets; that we give every child a quality education; and that we protect our precious environment.

“I am honored by the trust that you the voters have placed in me to take these values to Springfield. I will do everything in my power to deliver on this trust.”

Rashid is the son of Palestinian immigrants who came to the United States more than 50 years ago. After going to local schools, he graduated from Harvard University and joined the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to fight for immigration reform at the state and federal levels.

More recently, he had been active in county government. First working for County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and then policy director and deputy chief of staff to Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Rashid said he spent lots of time engaging with residents of the 21st District. “I wanted to hear from the people their concerns.”

He said some of his priorities will be investing in education and relying less on the property tax to fund schools, taking on the gun lobby by asking for universal background checks and banning assault weapons, and safeguarding the rights of workers in Illinois.

He said he will be a full-time representative. “Once elected, I’ll definitely be working more than 40 hours a week as state representative.”

As for his residence outside of the district? “I lived in the district for more than 5 years, but my connection to the area goes back to when I was 12,” he said. “My house was moved out of the district by one block in the latest redistricting. I’m planning on moving into Bridgeview.”

Schultz, 27, has lived for more than 20 years in Brookfield. Since graduating college, he has worked as a taxpayer advocate and is executive director of Taxpayers United of America.

The 21st District runs from Bridgeview north to Brookfield and from Countryside to Berwyn. It also takes in some of Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood.

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