The University of Chicago News Office
Nov. 2, 2006 Press Contact: Julia Morse
(773) 702-8359

Two University of Chicago students in the race for Illinois State Senate

Not only is Charles Kinzer a fourth-year College student and resident adviser at the University of Chicago, he is also a campaigning politician.

“It isn’t easy to find a spare minute these days,” said Kinzer, the Republican candidate for the 13th District in Hyde Park in the race for Illinois State Senate, who is studying Economics. “I am enjoying the campaign, and I think it is extremely important that we’re doing this.”

The Cook County Republican Party approached members of the student-run College Republicans last spring, encouraging some of them to consider running for Illinois State Senate seats in races where Democrats were running unopposed.

Kinzer eagerly accepted, as did Matthew Szydagis (A.B., ’05), a graduate student in Physics.

“I think it’s very important in a democracy to have a true competition, to shake things up a bit, not just to have these people winning only because no one ran against them,” said Szydagis, the Republican candidate for the 16th Senate District.

“It was a win-win situation for all of us,” Kinzer said. “The Cook County Republican Party wanted to increase the number of Republicans running and we were eager for some real political experience.”

Kinzer explained that the goal is not necessarily to win, but rather to increase student interest in local politics in Hyde Park, and to give Republicans a voice on the South Side of Chicago.

“Mine is a very low-key campaign, really not a huge operation, and one I’ve geared mostly toward students,” Kinzer said, nothing that he has relied mostly on word-of-mouth and bumper stickers to alert the University community of his Senate race. “A lot of people on campus seem really excited about a student running for Senate. Even the Democrats on campus have been receptive to my ideas.”

When it comes to his platform, Kinzer said there are a few issues that are important to him. He believes there should be statewide funding for Chicago public transportation.

“I understand why people who live far outside the city wouldn’t want to contribute to the CTA, but this is something I believe the state budget should pay for,” he explained.

Also a hot topic for Kinzer is corruption within Illinois politics.

“This state is known for it,” he said. “Although we can’t change that characteristic, that reputation, overnight, I think we need to really look beyond the status quo, get some new faces in our government and erase corruption from Illinois politics.”

At the top of Szydagis’ political priority list are abortion and handgun laws. He said he would like to promote education about abortion “to change hearts and minds,” and that it should always be illegal. He would also like to see reform of gun laws in Illinois.

“Innocent people need to protect themselves from criminals,” Szydagis said. “Everyday people cannot carry guns – but the criminals do. We need that protection.”

Although he has a strong political stance as a young Republican, for Szydagis, this campaign is less about winning as it is about the true nature of democracy, he said.

“It is a bad thing to have political races that aren’t races at all,” he added. “Realistically, winning would be a long shot in this case. Just by running, even without the win at the end, this is an important experience.”
Last modified at 04:30 PM CST on Thursday, November 02, 2006.

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