Op-Ed on “Congressman Gus Bilirakis Is Being Targeted”
Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the National Herald, 10-20-07 page 11, the Greek News, 10-15-07 page 44 and it will appear in the Hellenic News of America November issue page 3.
Congressman Gus Bilirakis Is Being Targeted
By Gene Rossides
October 10, 2007
Freshman Congressman Gus Bilirakis, Republican of the 9th Congressional District of Florida, is doing an outstanding job for his constituents and for the Greek American community. But he needs our financial support in his first reelection campaign.
Unfortunately the Democratic Party is targeting Congressman Bilirakis. There are three Democrats vying for the Democratic nomination to oppose him in the general election.
Gus Bilirakis, Republican from Palm Harbor, was elected to Congress on November 7, 2006, to represent Florida’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes portions of Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties.
Born on February 8, 1963, Gus learned about the importance of public service early in his life from his father, Michael Bilirakis, who represented the Ninth District in Congress from 1983 to 2006. The elder Bilirakis also instilled in his son pride in his family heritage and civic-mindedness, both of which Gus proudly exhibits today.
In Congress, Gus works in a bipartisan manner to make homeowners’ insurance more affordable, improve education, lower taxes, increase access to quality health care, protect veterans’ benefits, ensure the long-term viability of Social Security and Medicare, strengthen homeland security, and make government smaller and smarter. He has introduced more legislation than any other Member of the 110th freshman class.
Gus is the first Greek American Congressman to serve as a Member of the Subcommittee on Europe of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He also serves as a Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security as-well-as its Border, Maritime, & Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee and the Transportation Security & Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee. He also serves as a Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and its Subcommittee on Disability Assistance & Memorial Affairs. He is Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee’s Task Force on Veterans Affairs. Additionally and importantly, Gus is the Senior Freshman Whip of the Republican Party.
Prior to his election to Congress, Gus was overwhelmingly elected to four terms as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. During his tenure in Tallahassee (1998-2006), he chaired several prominent panels, including Crime Prevention, Public Safety Appropriations, and the Economic Development, Trade, & Banking Committee, gaining valuable expertise that will benefit him in Congress. He quickly became known as a consensus-builder who worked across party lines for the common good, as well as for focusing on constituent service and being accessible to those he represented, traits he continues in Congress.
Gus also won bipartisan acclaim for being fair and accomplishing his key priorities. His leadership resulted in laws to make communities safer, improve transportation, reform government, recognize the sacrifices of America’s veterans, and expand the role that community health centers play in making health care more available to lower-income individuals.
Early in his career, Gus volunteered on his father’s congressional campaigns, interned for President Ronald Reagan and the National Republican Congressional Committee, and worked for former Representative Don Sundquist (R-Tennessee). Gus earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1986, and a J.D. from Stetson University in 1989. Gus then ran the Bilirakis Law Group in Holiday, Florida, specializing in wills, trusts, and estate planning. He also taught government classes at St. Petersburg College.
Gus lives in Palm Harbor with his wife, Eva, and sons Michael, Teddy, Manuel, and Nicholas.
Bilirakis Resolution on Reunification of Cyprus
On Wednesday, September 26, 2007 the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously passed H. Res. 405, a bipartisan resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), which supports the implementation of a United Nations-brokered agreement toward the reunification of Cyprus.
On July 8, 2006, Republic of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed to an UN-sponsored framework establishing a set of principles for the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to find common ground and ensure a lasting peace and reunification.
Congressman Bilirakis, a member of the Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, was pleased with the bipartisan support for his resolution and the prospect of Congress lending its support to the July 8 peace process.
“The Committee has acted decisively today to demonstrate its support for a constructive and transparent process toward a reunification of Cyprus,” said Bilirakis. “The implementation of the July 8 Agreement would make it possible for a Cyprus that is unified under a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single sovereignty, single international personality and single citizenship with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots.”
H. Res. 405 acknowledges the key terms of the July 8, 2006 agreement, particularly the formation of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with territory allocated to the Greek and Turkish communities within a united Cyprus.
Speaker Pelosi responded affirmatively
Bilirakis encouraged Speaker Pelosi to take up the measure before the full House and for both Cypriot leaders to take the initiative and move toward sustained progress in implementing the July 8th Agreement.
“More than 33 years after the division of Cyprus, it is important that both sides now move forward on a dialogue that can pave the way for a more sustainable and lasting peace,” said Bilirakis. “I urge Speaker Pelosi to move this important resolution before the full House for a vote. It is now time for this Congress to act in expressing its support for the unification of Cyprus.”
Speaker Pelosi responded affirmatively. On October 9, 2007 she brought H. Res. 405 to the floor of the House and it passed unanimously.
The three Democratic challengers are well-financed. It is very important that Gus has adequate funds to run a full and vigorous campaign.
One year ago, Gus Bilirakis was a little-known state representative in Florida. Today he is one of three new Greek American Congressmen fighting for our issues. In his first nine months in Congress, Gus, in addition to H. Res. 405, has co-sponsored and/or initiated, H. Res. 1456, the House version of American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, H.Res.627 and H.Res.620 supporting the removal of Turkish occupation troops from Cyprus, H.Res.373 urging Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, H.Res.356 regarding FYROM, H. Res. 2526 to designate Greece for the visa program, a resolution recognizing Greek Independence Day, a resolution honoring AHEPA’s 85th anniversary, and a resolution honoring the people of Crete for service during WWII.
Gus also headed a group of Members in urging the Secretary of State to expand the visa waiver program for Greece. Gus understands the need for a unified Cyprus based on American values and an end to the Turkish occupation. Gus has been a needed voice for Greek Americans across the nation. When it comes to the issues that matter to our community, we can be sure that Gus will represent us zealously.
As a first term Congressman, Gus is being targeted. Our Greek American community must act now to keep this next generation of national political leadership in place.
I urge every reader to make a contribution today to help ensure that Gus Bilirakis has the resources to remain in Congress. An immediate contribution of $2,300, $1,000, $500, $250, $125, $100 or the most you feel comfortable giving will be the money Gus needs in these crucial months of the current campaign.
There are many who can afford the maximum of $2,300 allowed by the campaign finance law. I have contributed this amount to Gus. There are a great many who can afford $1,000 and $500, and I believe practically everybody can afford $250, $125 or $100. Please contribute as much as you can.
Checks should be made out to “Gus Bilirakis for Congress” and mailed to P.O. Box 606, Tarpon Springs, FL 34688. Please act today. It is important to our community.
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Op-Ed on “Congressman Gus Bilirakis Is Being Targeted”