By Andrew Smolenski
March 17, 2011
Illinois congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky, announced that she will be joining the House of Representatives General Aviation Caucus. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) reported this week on her joining the caucus and the driving force behind getting her involved in one of the largest caucuses in the US Congress. Chicago area pilot Rob Mark, CEO of CommAvia & Publisher at Jetwhine.com initiated contact with Jan earlier this year to address aviation issues pending in congress, such as the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program as well as the FAA reauthorization bill. Jan listened to Rob’s concerns and joined the GA Caucus in the House.
Prior to Rep. Schakowsky joining the House GA Caucus, only 4 congress members from Illinois were part of the GA Caucus, all in the House. They are Democrat Jerry Costello and Republicans Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger and Donald Manzullo. There are currently no Illinois Senators participating in the GA Caucus in the Senate.
Rob selected Jan as they both reside in the Village of Evanston and is his representative. Rob stated ‘Politicians always say we should connect if we need anything so I did when the issue of the DOT FAAC came up last year. After that died down, I suggested she think about the caucus after a conversation I had with Jack Pelton from Cessna. He’s the one that really got me focused on those events in the first place.’ As a more senior member of congress, and residing in President Obama’s home state, Rob feels Jan will be able to have a significant effect on general aviation in Illinois.
He felt that he would be able to approach Jan comfortably as her husband is a general aviation pilot and as a result, she’s had experience with small aircraft. He has not approached any other politicians yet, but is planning on approaching both Senator’s, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, who is a pilot himself.
Rob has asked members of the Chicago Area Business Aviation Associations (CABAA) to reach out to their congressional representatives as well. Rob planned to present at the CABAA luncheon today at Chicago Executive Airport, unfortunately, he had to postpone his remarks until a future meeting.
When asked how a pilot can contact their local representative he mentioned that ‘the first thing I’d say is that pilots need to look for the most receptive audience. Which legislator do they have a connection to for starters? Next they need to be persistent.’ Rob recommended an in-person visit over a phone call but stated to call ahead first to at least set up an appointment.
Rob states that when speaking with a representative, ‘I think the issues are important, but we need to be very specific about the action we want. No legislator wants to listen to some pilot complain for half an hour. They think in terms like “What would you like me to do.” In Rob’s case he approached Jan and asked her to get him in contact with the Department of Transportation (DOT) which she did.
The NBAA does provide a Contact Congress resource which can be used to contact a local representative regarding current issues. You can also use congress.org to locate you local representatives and obtain their contact information. To get involved contact your local congressperson and make your voice heard.
Source: CHICAGO EXAMINER