92.7 FM Interview
FEB. 8, 2020
INTERVIEWER: We have a special guest here with us today who is running for Congress and that is Federal, not State. We have a candidate with true patriotic values and with a strong Polish heritage from a family that has a quite a remarkable story. How are you today?
ANDREW: Thank you, I’m doing great and thank you for having me.
INTERVIEWER: Before we proceed maybe you would like to say a few things for the English listeners?
ANDREW: I am Andrew Heldut. I am a consumer rights lawyer, running against Jan Schakowsky in the primary for Congress. No one should be in Congress for that long. I’ve been calling for TERM LIMITS as a check on incumbency & power - 12 years maximum in the House of Representatives and I will resign in 2032. Help me with taking on the Establishment and Career Politicians. Write in “Heldut” on March 17, 2020! Read more on www.AndrewHeldut.com.
INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us a little about your Congressional District?
ANDREW: I am a candidate in the 9th Congressional District, facing off Jan Schakowsky who has been sitting in Congress since the 1990s. The district includes northern parts of Chicago including Rogers Park, Uptown and north-west suburbs, namely Arlington Heights, Niles, Des Plaines, Evanston, Lincolnwood, Kenilworth, Park Ridge, Glenview, Northfield, Mount Prospect, Skokie, Northbrook, Wilmette, Morton Grove, Winnetka, and Prospect Heights. The District has been Democratic for the past 50 years.
INTERVIEWER: The last time we talked I asked you what would you like to do for the Polish communities and your constituents, but we ran out of time. Could you please let us all know?
ANDREW: Yes of course. I would like to divide this answer into two parts - what I can do right away - and secondly - what will entail a fight, but for which I am fully committed. I want to emphasize that this applies to all my constituents, not just the Polish. First of all, as a Congressman, I want to allocate one of my offices to serve Poles and all their matters, including basic, legal assistance and immigration assistance. I will deal with the issues of Polish-American social organizations, help them and their transparency, so that all Poles have knowledge where to go when they face problems. With Chicago having over 1.5 million persons with a Polish heritage, I think it’s only right for the Polish to have a greater representation in the sayings of U.S. government, especially by a Polish-speaking representative.
Also, I will organize cyclical meetings for all my constituents at which we will consider important social issues on the basis of applications submitted by citizens. By saying this I do not exclude anyone. Because of my cultural background, I will also fight for Asians, Indians, Arabs and Latinos. I will fight for minorities. I will fight for all of my constituents.
What will take an effort is to expand the Federal Minority Business Development Agency, making it statutorily under the control of Congress. My aim will be to qualify more socially or economically disadvantaged persons to start new businesses and renaming the program to Federal Minority and Diversity Development. More credit will be granted if the businesses will be sustainable and green.
I also want to create a reform system lowering property taxes to a rational level for citizens - we have mechanisms such as SALT where we can write off some of our state taxes from federal taxes.
INTERVIEWER: Tell me a few reasons why you will be an effective Congressman?
ANDREW: My experience as a lawyer in consumer affairs with the so-called Class Actions - which we introduce against the largest corporations in the USA - has shown me that we really can change the behavior of corporations. And this experience will translate into politics, namely how to deal with them. For example, we cannot forget that these corporations profit off of our data. I strongly believe that people should have an individual right in their own personal data. For example, we have a new case we brought against Walgreens which installed smart refrigerators in several of its Chicago stores. When the customer approaches the refrigerator, there is a hidden camera which scans your eye to analyze specifically what product you look at, collecting information about your age, ethnicity, gender etc. The question is whether this system creates a profile and collects information about your individuality by collecting your biometrics (without your consent) and whether they are able to hit you with ads on the internet. And this is my specialty: in privacy and data, and in my opinion allowing capitalism to ride free can have consequences.
INTERVIEWER: Did you hear that? Smart refrigerators? And it’s illegal?
ANDREW: If your biometric information was taken without your consent, then yes. So for me, stronger consumer rights are important, but also and most importantly: fighting money in politics - we've recently talked about Term Limits of up to 12 years in Congress, to make it more difficult for lobbyists to have life-long access to our politicians. That’s why my campaign only relies on individual contributions, so that I will vote with my heart and not what interests tell me.
INTERVIEWER: We’ve been hearing a lot about mistrust of lawyers. What do you say to an average voter that doesn’t trust lawyers too much?
ANDREW: Yes, there is anti-lawyer populism. The first rule of a lawyer is the client comes first, before our own personal interests (we are punished if we break our fiduciary duty). As you know, we are in gridlock in Washington. Almost nothing can be done. Good lawyers understand high-dispute resolution. We focus on the goal and not on trivial fights of how to get there. We make settlements to suit both sides. We understand compromise. Now politicians do not look at the goal of a better future, but focus on the politics of it, destruction, focusing only on getting elected and so we have divisions. It can't be like that. Which brings me to another reason for term limits: a serving leadership model. You have a time limit, so use it to serve your country and constituents. And through term limits we can put a check on power, a check on a self-serving model of a politician, and the consequential arrogance.
And there is indeed populism against lawyers, but the interesting fact is that the reduction in the proportion of lawyers in U.S. Congress since the 1970s coincided directly with the increase in polarization in our Congress between Democrats and Republicans. Currently our Congress consists of less than 1/3 lawyers.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think 12 years is enough in Congress to get something done?
ANDREW: Of course. So for me, just like Roman Puczynski, who was a Polish Congressman from Chicago serving in the House from 1959 to 1973, you should go into Congress with a mission. Roman, for example, on Day 1 launched a one-man effort with a mission to introduce black boxes in airplanes. He succeeded and served only 14 years. The point is that it should not take someone a few decades to accomplish something. I believe 12 years is enough to do something specific in politics and anything longer is simply hoarding the office and for your own personal glory. And these are not new ideas - Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were surprised that the constitution has no term limits and wrote very strongly about it.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think about Jan Schakowsky in Congress?
ANDREW: 21 years. All I can say is that the average voter would not be able to cite one of her accomplishments without looking it up.
INTERVIEWER: Now returning to your roots. Can you expand more about your family's history?
ANDREW: We are talking about my great-grandfather?
ANDREW: My great-grandfather is a unique figure in the history of the Second Polish Republic. Remember that Poland was gone off the map for 123 years until 1918, so patriotism was at its height. After graduating from Ghent University in Belgium and the outbreak of the First World War, he associated his fate with Marshal Jozef Piłsudzki, as a soldier of the First Cadre Company, which the future military leadership of the Polish army stems from. He was a participant in the First World War and the Bolshevik War, as the leader of the Polish Cavalry, and was awarded the Virtuti Militari cross and the Polonia Restituta cross, amongst many other medals.
Heldut-Tarnasiewicz, my great-grandfather, was a personal friend of Józef Piłsudski. Their cumulative war planning and efforts led to a historic victory over the Soviets in the Polish-Soviet war in 1920, which stopped Bolshevism from striking Europe. According to historians, the Warsaw battle in 1920 and the Polish victory in the war are considered one of the most decisive victories in history, because it prevented the spread of Soviet influence. My great-grandfather was actually critically wounded in that battle.
In 1939, my great-grandfather was the commander of the prestigious Cavalry Cadet School in Grudziadz at the Cavalry Training Center, equivalent to our American West Point in status, which was led only by a general. There he was promoted to general, but the promotion was never confirmed due to the outbreak of World War II, where he led the front against the Soviets in Defense of Grodno. He was then captured and interned in Lithuania. They managed to escape and was evacuated to France and later to England where in Scotland, near Edinburgh, he trained officers for the front against the Nazis.
INTERVIEWER: What an impressive story especially to be proud of.
ANDREW: It is very impressive. Rarely, an officer of the Second Republic can boast such a rank and medals as grandfather. You can read more on Wikipedia: Edmund Heldut-Tarnasiewicz.
INTERVIEWER: How about your last name? Tarnasiewicz-Heldut?
ANDREW: The nickname Heldut is connected with a tradition of large number of officers of the Second Polish Republic. They added an introduction to their surname, which has since been used in the wording of Heldut-Tarnasiewicz. Similar to Bór-Komorowski, Rydz-Śmigły or Grot-Rowecki. After the war, the new communist-regime that ruled Poland did not understand these officer's nuances changing the name of my whole family from just Tarnasiewicz to Tarnasiewicz-Heldut and entered them in the official record.
So, I like to call this story about my last name: Love For Eternal Peace Or Vanity For Patriotism. My great-grandfather was at a military officer's ball with his beautiful and affluent fiancé when he was a young rising star in the ranks. My grandfather was madly in love with her and probably everything would have been different if she had not been in such high demand for dancing with other officers at this ball. Those were slightly different times and more senior officers watched.
After the ball, my grandfather told her that they were probably too young for a serious relationship and told her that he could not keep the engagement, so he broke it off. The fiancé tried to change his mind, but the oddly understood officer's honor of that era - not allowing grandfather to change his mind – led to the young woman’s suicide.
Her name was Helena Dutkiewicz. We have Heldut from here. And my grandfather’s officers gave this memory to our family, by giving him that nickname. So, that is where Love for Eternal Peace Or Vanity for Patriotism comes from. It seems my grandfather chose Patriotism over Love and dedicated his whole career to not only fight for the independence of Poland from Communists and Nazis, but also for our entire free world. He chose patriotism for his homeland. Remember that Poland was gone off the map for 123 years when these difficult decisions had to be made. He was - all of them were - fighting for something greater than themselves.
INTERVIEWER: What a story. Maybe someone will make a movie out of it one day.
ANDREW: Maybe. I am running as a write-in candidate against Jan Schakowsky. When you see only one name Jan Schakowsky, you can write in “Heldut” by either writing it in on paper or by touch screen. Thank you for having me.