Rep. Mike Quigley speaks to DePaul Democrats, answers questions

Rep. Mike Quigley has served the 5th congressional district of Illinois since 2009. (Photo courtesy of U.S. House of Representatives)
Rep. Mike Quigley has served the 5th congressional district of Illinois since 2009. (Photo courtesy of U.S. House of Representatives)

The barrage of politicians coming to DePaul continued last Tuesday as Congressman Mike Quigley (D–Ill.) spoke to the College Dems at its general body meeting. 

Quigley, who represents the North Side of the city, as well as some suburbs, spoke about his career, what he has learned from it, and gave advice to young hopefuls interested in having what he considers a “cool job.”

Hosted in the Arts and Letters Hall, Quigley wrote on the whiteboard a scribbled, but clear-cut formula for those interested in politics. Starting with, “learn to write–please,” then leading to “the will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win,” and finally ending with “cool job.”

“The United States Senate didn’t want ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ released because they thought it made them look bad – it made democracy look bad,” Quigley said, referencing the film on his whiteboard agenda points.

“They were wrong! Democracy’s messy, but that’s what’s so beautiful about it,” he said.

Quigley also had advice for those not interested in politics.

“For those who don’t want to, you should,” he said. “This is a cool job. I even wrote it down and underlined it.”

“It’s really fun to be a state representative, to be a state senator … this stuff’s fun. Being an alderman is fun. Being a congressman is really a lot of fun. It’s an extraordinary experience.”

Quigley said working on other campaigns and getting his name to be well-known in the community took him far.

“All the time I have people who come up to me who don’t understand this,” Quigley said. “I ask them, ‘Have you ever been to a community meeting? Have you ever worked on a school board issue? A library board?’”

“Have you done anything to get known?” he said.

Quigley added the importance of having a story, and helping someone else get elected which could lead to an endorsement.

“They say money’s everything. I got outspent 12 to one, and 11 to two. I just had a bigger district, and I had been to more meetings as a county commissioner,” Quigley said. “I had focused locally.”

“Literally it was block by block, and it was the will to prepare to win to get known by somebody—because who the hell are you when you decide to run?”

Katelin Foley, a freshman political science major, said Quigley was “down to earth” and appreciated that he just talked to the students, rather than giving them a presentation.

“He was awesome,” Foley said. “He was more intelligent than what I think of when I think of the House of Representatives, or when I think of Congress in general.”

Quigley’s notable role in Democratic fundraising was recently written about in the Chicago Sun-Times. He currently sits on the House Appropriations Committee, a powerful position that has allowed for him to bring federal money to the city for projects.

Some of Quigley’s famous predecessors include Rahm Emanuel, who now serves as mayor, Rod Blagojevich, who went on to be governor before going to prison on corruption charges, and Dan Rostenkowski, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, whose 36 year tenure in the House ended when he was indicted and sent to prison for mail fraud.

Quigley began his term in the House in 2009.