Oak Lawn dentist Kenneth Yerkes, DDS, registered as a write-in candidate in the 3rd District Congressional race on Nov. 6 because he believes Republican voters should have a choice other than Arthur Jones.
Yerkes, 61, was born on Chicago’s Southwest Side and grew up in Palos Park. He planned to run in the Republican primary in 2020 for the seat that Cong. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) has held since 2005. But he decided to run as a write-in this year after Arthur Jones ran unopposed for the Republican nomination in April.
Jones, of Lyons, is a former leader of the American Nazi Party and a Holocaust denier. Illinois Republican party leaders have denounced his candidacy.
“The fact that Arthur Jones is on the ballot forced me to step up this year and run against him and his ideals that I find to be offensive and truly un-American,” said Yerkes.
“I am diametrically opposed to him. Arthur Jones is not a Republican. He is a neo-Nazi. When he came on the scene, that gave me the incentive and I just felt someone had to step up,” said Yerkes, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative. “I don’t want Jones to represent the Republican party.”
Dr. Kenneth Yerkes
“I feel like I was called to run for Congress, just like I was called to become a dentist. It is a calling,” he said.
“But I am for term limits. If elected, I don’t plan on serving more than two terms,” he said, suggesting that all politicians do the same, and run for another office if they want to remain in politics.
His grandfather founded John Yerkes & Sons plumbing company in Chicago 98 years ago. It is now run by his father, David Yerkes Sr., and other family members.
“I was born a Democrat,” he said, explaining why some of his views differ from those of the traditional Republican party.
“I am one of the few Republicans who is pro-union, strongly pro-union,” he said.
He also sees the need for some gun control, asserting that ownership of “arsenal weaponry” such as the rifles used in recent mass shootings should be highly regulated.
“There is no need for arsenal weaponry to be on the streets,” he said. “I am extremely principled, with deep Christian principles.”
Asked about the recent controversy over immigration, he said he opposed the policy of separating parents and children coming across the border illegally. “But we have to ensure they are family members,” he said.
Yerkes said his professional background would be helpful as Congress deals with the health insurance issure. "Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced," he said, referring to the Affordable Healthcare Act.
In addition to being pro-life and pro-senior citizens, he said he is “for a strong middle-class. That is what separates America from other countries. We need to build up the middle class and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.”
Yerkes said he believed President Trump is doing a good job with reducing regulations that made it more difficult for small businesses to thrive.
Yerkes attended St. Michael Elementary School in Orland Park before going on to graduate from Marist High School in Chicago, followed by Loyola University and Loyola Dental School. He also earned a master’s degree in education from St. Xavier University, and is licensed to teach high school in Illinois.
A dentist for 36 years, he now operates Oak Lawn Dental LLC, 5001 W. 95th St. Yerkes describes himself as a “happily married father of two,” who doesn’t want to put his wife of 36 years or his children in the spotlight.
“They are not running for Congress, I am. And I respect their privacy,” he said.
“The Republicans would be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than me,” said Yerkes, whose campaign slogan is “People and Principles Over Money and Power.”
“I believe that I have leadership ability. I hope to bring my talents to Washington D.C., and honorably represent my district. I have the talent. I have strong, deep convictions, I want to enact legislation that will benefit my district. I have good communication skills and will hold quarterly town hall meetings to keep in touch with my constituents,” said Yerkes.
He volunteered for Marco Rubio’s campaigns for senator and president, as well as for Jeanne Ives in her primary campaign for Illinois governor.
Yerkes is also an active member of St. Gerald Parish in Oak Lawn, where he volunteers for St. Vincent de Paul and other organizations.
He also is affiliated with the Chicago Dental Society Foundation, as well as being a Heritage Action Sentinel, a nationwide conservative activist program.
In his spare time, he is a singer-songwriter who performs under the name Doctor Y. One of his songs, “I’m a Cubbie Today,” is available on YouTube and other music websites.
“I have a passion to pursue politics and I believe leaders step up,” said Yerkes, who is looking forward to marching in the Evergreen Park Independence Day parade on July 3, and parades in Oak Lawn and Palos Heights on July 4.
“I pretty much have an open mind and strong mind and ethics. I am not doing anything part-time. I am going to put my heart and soul into this campaign,” he said.