Bill Foster (politician)

Bill Foster
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 11th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Judy Biggert
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 14th district
In office
March 8, 2008  January 3, 2011
Preceded by Dennis Hastert
Succeeded by Randy Hultgren
Personal details
Born (1955-10-07) October 7, 1955
Madison, Wisconsin
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ann Foster (?-1996), divorced
Aesook Byon (2008–)[1]
Children Billy Foster
Christine Foster
Residence Geneva, Illinois (2008–11)
Naperville, Illinois (2011–)
Alma mater University of Wisconsin (B.S.)
Harvard University (Ph.D.)
Profession Physicist
Business Owner
Website Representative Bill Foster

George William "Bill" Foster (born October 7, 1955) is an American physicist, businessman and U.S. Representative for Illinois's 11th congressional district, winning the seat in 2012.[2] He was previously the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 14th congressional district from 2008 to 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Early life, education, and business career

Foster was born in 1955 in Madison, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1976 and his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University in 1983. The title of his doctoral dissertation is "An experimental limit on proton decay: " and is available from University Microfilms International as document number 8402995.

At age 19, Foster and his younger brother Fred started a business in their basement with $500 from their parents. The company, Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC), now has over 650 employees worldwide and manufactures over half of the theater lighting equipment in the United States. Installations include Broadway shows, Rolling Stones tours, opera houses, Super Bowl halftime shows, and at schools, churches, and community centers around the world.[3]

Physics career

After completing his Ph.D., Foster moved to the Fox Valley with his family to pursue a career in high-energy (particle) physics at Fermilab, a Department of Energy National Laboratory. During Foster's 22 years at Fermilab he participated in several projects, including the design of equipment and data analysis software for the CDF Detector, which were used in the discovery of the top quark, and the management of the design and construction of a 3 km Anti-Proton Recycler Ring for the Main Injector.[4][5]

He has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society, was on the team receiving the 1989 Bruno Rossi Prize for cosmic ray physics for the discovery of the neutrino burst from the supernova SN 1987A, received the Particle Accelerator Technology Prize from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and was awarded an Energy Conservation award from the United States Department of Energy for his application of permanent magnets for Fermilab's accelerators.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives


2008 special

On November 26, 2007, former House Republican Speaker J. Dennis Hastert resigned as the Representative from Illinois' 14th congressional district. Foster announced his candidacy to fill the vacancy on May 30, 2007.[7] In the March special election, Foster defeated Republican nominee and Hastert-endorsed candidate Jim Oberweis 53%–47%.[8][9]

2008 general

In November, Oberweis ran against Foster again in a rematch. Foster won re-election to a full term 58%–42%.[10]


Foster was challenged by Republican nominee State Senator Randy Hultgren and Green Party nominee Daniel Kairis. Despite winning the endorsements from the Chicago Tribune,[11] the Chicago Sun-Times[12] and The Daily Herald,[13] Foster lost to Hultgren 51%–45%.[14][15]


In May 2011, Foster sold his home in Geneva, moved to Naperville and announced plans to run for Congress in the 11th District, which encompasses Aurora, Joliet, Lisle in addition to Naperville. It also includes roughly a quarter of his old district.[16][17] The district had previously been the 13th, represented by seven-term Republican Judy Biggert. Although Biggert's home in Hinsdale had been shifted to the Chicago-based 5th District, Biggert opted to seek election in the 11th, which contained half of her old territory.[18]

On November 6, 2012, Foster won the election for the 11th district with 58% of the vote; Biggert conceded the race at 9:45pm.[19]


Foster ran again and was unopposed in the Democratic primary in March 2014.[20] For the general election, he faced Republican nominee, State Representative Darlene Senger, and defeated her with 53.5% of the vote to her 46.5% of the vote.[21]


Although it was initially thought that Foster would not be sworn in until April due to the need to count absentee ballots before the first election would be certified, he took the oath of office on March 11.[22]

Foster joined Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt, Jr. (D-NJ) as the only research physicists ever to be elected to Congress.[23] On his first day in office, he cast the deciding vote to keep from tabling an ethics bill that would create an independent outside panel to investigate ethics complaints against House members.[24][25]


According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bill Foster received $637,050 from labor related political action committees during his runs for Congress. $180,000 of this money came from PACs linked to public sector unions. $110,000 of these donations came from PACs linked to industrial labor unions.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Nancy Pelosi gave $4,000 to Bill Foster’s 2012 campaign committee. PACs under the control of Pelosi have donated $10,000 to his 2012 campaign.


Foster supports allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. During a debate with his opponent in the 2012 election Foster said, “The tax cuts were promised to generate job growth, but did not. If you follow the money, when you give a dollar to a very wealthy person, they won’t typically put it back into the local economy.” He said the tax benefits ended up in overseas accounts and spent on luxury purchases.[26]

Bill Foster has opposed efforts to repeal the estate tax. On 31 August 2005, U.S. Newswire reported that Foster said, "The proponents of estate tax repeal are fond of calling it the ‘death tax’. It’s not a death tax, it’s a Rich Kids’ tax." In 2009, just before the estate tax was scheduled for a one-year repeal, Foster voted to permanently extend the then current estate tax rate of 45%.

Card check

According to the official Thomas website, Bill Foster co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009. On 25 February 2012, the Daily Herald reported, “Foster pointed to his support for the Employee Free Choice Act while serving at the congressman in the 14th District as proof of his union support."

Stimulus spending

Foster voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009[27]

Health care reform

Foster voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.[28] On June 29, 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported that Foster said the following about his vote for Obamacare, "I’m proud of my vote, and I would be proud to do it again."


He also voted for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, with all ten of the amendments he proposed being added to the final bill.[29]


He voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would create a Cap and trade system.[30]

Committee assignments



Personal life

Foster and his wife live in Naperville, Illinois.[31] He has two adult children from his first marriage.[17] Foster has lived and worked in northern Illinois (Naperville, Geneva, Batavia, and St. Charles) since 1984.


  1. "Three House Members Wearing New Rings in the 111th". The Washington Post.
  2. "Judy Biggert Concedes Race To Bill Foster". CBS Chicago. Nov 6, 2012.
  3. Electronic Theatre Controls (2008). "Lighting Solutions from ETC". Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  4. Foster, G. William (May 12–16, 1997). 4C.01 "The Fermilab Permanent Magnet Antiproton Recycler Ring" Check |url= value (help). The 1997 Particle Accelerator Conference Meeting Program Vancouver BC, Canada. Fermilab.
  5. Spotts, Peter N. (2004-05-01). "Physicists hope to win support for new subatomic smasher". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  6. American Astronomical Society – High Energy Astrophysics Division (1989). "HEAD AAS Rossi Prize Winners". Archived from the original on 6 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  7. "Geneva man seeks position in Congress". Courier News (Elgin, IL). 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  8. "General election results". Chicago Tribune. 2008-03-08.
  9. "IL – District 14 – Special Election". Our Campaigns.
  10. "IL – District 14". Our Campaigns.
  11. "For the US House". Chicago Tribune. 2010-10-07.
  12. "Foster for 14th District". Chicago Sun-Times. 2010-10-06. Archived from the original on October 12, 2010.
  13. "Congress, 14th District: Foster". The Daily Herald. 2010-10-16.
  14. "Our Campaigns – IL – District 14 Race – Nov 02, 2010". Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  15. "Clout St. Democrat Foster concedes defeat in 14th District". Chicago Tribune. 2010-11-02.
  16. Lynn Sweet (31 May 2011). "Illinois Congress 2012: Bill Foster running in new 11th district". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  17. 1 2 Katherine Skiba (31 May 2011). "In wake of remap plan, ex-lawmaker to run again". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  18. Mike Flannery, Dane Placko (Aug 9, 2012). "FOX Chicago Sunday: Biggert, Foster debate to represent 11th Congressional District". Fox Chicago.
  19. Matt Hanley, Jenette Sturges (November 6, 2012). "Foster returns to Congress with win over Biggert". The Herald-News.
  20. "Official Illinois State Board of Elections Results – March 18, 2014 Primary Election (P. 31)" (PDF). Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  21. "Illinois General Election 2014". Illinois State Board of Elections. 2014-11-04. Retrieved 2014-12-28.
  22. Hague, Leslie (2008-03-11). "Foster sworn into Congress". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
  23. Cornelia Dean (2008-07-10). "Physicists in Congress Calculate Their Influence". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  24. "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 121". 2008-03-11.
  25. Jim Tankersley. "First day, swing vote for new Rep. Bill Foster". Baltimore Sun.
  26. Dauskurdas, Sherri (September 2, 2012). "Biggert, Foster sit down for first debate of new 11th district". The Bugle.
  28. "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 165". H R 3590 RECORDED VOTE : BILL TITLE: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. U.S. House of Representatives. 21 Mar 2010.
  29. "Bill's Congressional Career". Bill Foster for Congress.
  30. "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 477: H R 2454". RECORDED VOTE; QUESTION: On Passage; BILL TITLE: American Clean Energy and Security Act. U.S. House of Representatives. 26 Jun 2009.
  31. "Foster, Bill – Statement of Candidacy". Federal Elections Commission. 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-10-04.

Further reading

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Adam Kinzinger
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 11th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – Present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Dennis Hastert
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 14th congressional district

March 11, 2008 – January 3, 2011
Succeeded by
Randy Hultgren
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Tim Walberg
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Justin Amash
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