9th U.S. Congressional District Pilot Program

The Chicago Faith Coalition Steering Committee developed a one-page document that reflected and summarized our positions about the Israeli/Palestinian situation. This document evolved from the Policy Position Survey that we completed in the Summer of 2008. We decided to initiate a pilot program that used this document/petition in one Congressional District. We planned to work through local churches to gain endorsements of the petition. The 9th Congressional District was selected because we have several members who reside in Evanston and we felt that Representative Schakowsky would engage in open discussion about the petition. The petition can be reviewed, downloaded and printed here.

Rev. Cotton Fite led a team consisting of Bernice Klosterman, Del Leppke, Elizabeth Mertic, Lynn Pollack, Newland Smith, Ed Thompson and Tom Trueblood. This group contacted over 60 religious organizations to identify local sponsors for the petition. Each team member invested from 20 to 40 hours between October of 2008 and April of 2009 in activities to secure endorsements. The pilot program team sent many emails, made many phone calls and met in numerous face-to-face meetings. People who endorsed the hard-copy version of the petition handwrote their name, street address, city, email address and optionally their religious affiliation. In the online version of the petition, the endorser could also type comments and could opt to keep their names private. Our goal was 1000 endorsements.

On May 8, 2009 Cotton Fite, Gary Cozette, Tom Trueblood and Elaine Waxman delivered 1,060 constituent endorsements (plus 43 endorsements from outside District 9) to Representative Schakowsky. They had an engaging discussion and Representative Schakowsky offered to make a written response to the petition and the discussion. On June 9, 2009 her written response was delivered to Cotton Fite and can be viewed, downloaded and printed here.

Hard-copy endorsers numbered nearly 900 and online endorsers numbered just over 200. Over 70% of the endorsers provided a religious affiliation and a statistical summary of the affiliations provided can be viewed, downloaded and printed from here. An email voter voices group of over 500 people will receive news updates about Israeli/Palestinian issues and will be informed about advocacy opportunities with Representative Schakowsky. Email activity will continue for the forseeable future with this 9th Congressional District Voter Voices Group. Our collective voices are an important ingredient in the powerful, growing movement to create a U.S. foreign policy that promotes justice, security, peace and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.

The Chicago Faith Coalition is seeking other organizations and individuals with whom we might partner to gain petition endorsements and to create an email voter voices group in other U.S. Congressional districts to advocate for justice, security, peace and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine. If you or your organization would like to explore this kind of advocacy effort in your Illinois Congressional District, please contact Ed Thompson or any other member of the Steering Committee (contact information here).