March 31, 2002 - US Congress: Biography of Congressman and RPCV Christopher Shays

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By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 7:25 pm: Edit Post

Biography of Congressman and RPCV Christopher Shays

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Biography of Congressman and RPCV Christopher Shays*

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Biography of Congressman and RPCV Christopher Shays

Christopher Shays is "a demonstrated budget-cutter with a heart and an independent-minded reformer."-- The Hartford Courant

Compared by the New York Times to Theodore Roosevelt and Robert Kennedy, Christopher is a leader among moderates in the Republican Party. He advocates fiscally conservative and socially moderate views both in Congress and on the national stage, and is a frequent guest on political talk shows, including Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Crossfire, Hardball and Hannity and Colmes.

Christopher's fiscal responsibility consistently wins the highest rankings from the Concord Coalition, National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste.

Recently referred to as a "wily veteran" by President George W. Bush, Christopher is known as a hard-working advocate for reform, making Congress more accountable and responsive to the people it serves.

He is a leader of the coalition supporting campaign finance reform, working with Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA), Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) and others to pass a ban on soft money and a prohibition on sham campaign ads that masquerade as "issue" ads for federal races. The Shays-Meehan bipartisan reform coalition was forced to overcome an avalanche of hostile amendments and fervent opposition to pass the House three times, most recently in February 2002.

A nationally recognized environmentalist, Christopher has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club for his strong support of Clean Water and Endangered Species legislation, as well as his aggressive stand in favor of strict new Clean Air regulations. "Congressman Christopher Shays' early leadership has been important in protecting Americans from the health hazards of polluted air," said then Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner. In 1997, Congress passed legislation Christopher authored that will return urban brownfields -- older industrial sites -- to productive use through a mix of seed money for local governments and tax credits for private developers.

Christopher was born in Darien, Connecticut to Peggy and the late Bud Shays in 1945, the youngest of four boys. He was a grade school student, reading about Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln, when he first became excited by the idea of entering public service. After finishing his studies at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, he married his high school sweetheart, Betsi, and the two served together in the Peace Corps in Fiji from 1968 to 1970.

A teacher for 25 years, Betsi returned to the Peace Corps in 1998 where she currently directs the Center for Field Assistance and Applied Research. Christopher and Betsi live in Bridgeport, Connecticut and commute to Washington. Their daughter Jeramy attends Principia College.

Christopher was first elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1974, the year the Watergate scandal entered the American consciousness and confidence in our political system was at a low. He was one of only 35 Republicans to win a seat that year to the 151-member State House. As a state representative, Christopher spoke out against abuses in the state probate system, and was sent to jail by a judge for criticizing corruption in the court system. In 1987, he won a special election to the U.S. Congress after the death of Rep. Stewart McKinney, another independent-minded Republican and advocate for America's cities.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; US Peace Corps - Congress; COS Fiji



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