On Dec. 2, 2019, the deadline for filing nominations, local Indian-American activist from Skokie, Illinois, Kevin Olickal, filed paperwork, including more than 1,000 signatures from local residents, for the Illinois State House, to represent District 16.
Olickal announced his candidacy in a press release, laying out his rationale for running.
“In this time of political turmoil, we as a community need to be increasingly vigilant about those we choose to represent us at every level. When I realized the two candidates already in the race were hand-picked extensions of political machines, I could not stand by and watch idly as our community is striped (sic) of it’s voice in Springfield. My neighbors deserve representation that is accountable only to them, and I am proud to give them that option,” Olickal said.
Olickal said when former State Rep. Lou Lang who held the seat for over three decades retired, Lang and others in the Demoratic Party committee, “hand-picked” his replacement, incumbent State Representative Yehiel Kalish.
“Following his controversial vote to limit women’s reproductive freedom by Rep. Kalish, Lang and other political power-players are now backing another chosen candidate for the seat,” Olickal said, adding that he wanted to give voters a chance to choose a progressive candidate of their own choosing, and not one who was part of the “political machine.”
“The voters of the 16th district deserve an election, not selections by the few,” Olickal contended in his press release.
Describing himself as a “progressive” Democrat, Olickal said he was committed to fighting for middle-class and working families, ensuring that every community has a voice in government.
A lifelong Skokie resident and son of immigrants, Olickal graduated from East Prairie School and Niles North High School. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology at The Ohio State University, he returned to Illinois and worked on political campaigns and in government constituent outreach. He is currently the Executive Director of the Indo-American Democratic Organization, IADO.
“I was born and raised in this community, and have dedicated my career to public service, and ensuring progressive reform in Illinois,” said Olickal. “Over the next few months, I will continue to go door-to-door, listen to the concerns and needs of every community, and prove to them that I am ready to take on this challenge.”