By Madeline Makoul
With incumbent Arthur Turner stepping down in the 9th State Representative District, multiple candidates are stepping up to try to succeed him and some longtime West Side political leaders are backing different candidates in the Tuesday, March 17, primary. The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Lakesia Collins is a nursing home worker and leader in the nursing home reform movement. She has organized and pushed throughout her career for nursing homes to staff facilities properly, and she supports the $15 minimum wage.
“It’s time we have an organizer in Springfield,” Collins said. “I’ve organized contracts, I’ve stood up to the bosses, and I’m not afraid to speak out if I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Collins said she has fought for securing retirement and believes, when it comes to the pension crisis, the people who were promised benefits should receive them. To address this issue, Collins supports the progressive income tax.
“I’ve watched coworkers who were 65, 70 years old still working on the job,” Collins said. “They should have been able to retire with dignity and not have to continue to work.”
The progressive income tax also can be used to fund schools. Collins said she has spoken to parents, especially on the West Side, who struggle to drive their children to locations farther away due to school closures, as they try to give their kids a quality education.
“When it comes to education, it always seems to be second on the list,” Collins said. “I’m a mother of three, and I care about my children’s education and their future. Every child deserves a quality education.”
To ensure jobs for the middle and underserved classes, Collins said she will push for green energy, which will help generate new jobs. Additionally, Collins wants to promote higher wages.
“I’m glad we have the $15, but it’s just a stepping stone, and we need to continue to increase the minimum wage,” Collins said. “I was a minimum wage worker, and I struggled and looked at eviction notices, and that’s not fair. We are on the path to $15, but we need to make sure people have livable wages to take care of their families.”
Learn more about Collins at lakesia4rep.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
TyJuan “Ty” Cratic is a small business owner who previously served as the chair of the Cook County Young Democrats. He has volunteered and worked for other campaigns, including as a political advisor to Governor JB Pritzker’s campaign.
On pensions, Cratic said the State needs to see if it can afford them at current levels and consider other avenues. While Cratic noted the importance of keeping promises to those nearing retirement, “we have to consider what the State can afford long term,” he said. “I’m willing to have a conversation about pension reform. If that means we push people that are new coming into the pension system to have a 401(k) or different benefits, or what a cap would look like when it comes to pensions, these are discussions I’m open to.”
Cratic sees crime as a byproduct of the economic situation, so instead of focusing on tackling specific types of crime, he would advocate for small business growth as well as affordable housing and home ownership.
“We actually have to invest and push for more development, and once we get that, people will have their own jobs and we can focus on education,” Cratic said. “Economic status and education lowers the crime rate. We will never be crime free, but we will live safer lives and have a better quality of life.”
Cratic supports term limits, specifically advocating for an eight-year limit in both the State House and State Senate.
“Our government is a representative democracy; we are not a trustee,” Cratic said. “It’s my job to enact the people’s business, not go down to Springfield to push for special interests, which can happen when people start serving ten, 20 years; they start seeing things differently. We need fresh, new ideas to move the State forward.”
To learn more about Cratic, visit tycratic.com.
Maurice Edwards said he was inspired at a young age by Secretary of State Jesse White. As a child raised by a single mother in Cabrini-Green, Edwards met the future secretary of state while White was working in the Chicago Public School system. White helped Edwards join some of his programs, including the Jesse White Drum Corps, with which Edwards still works today. This inspiration has led Edwards to continue working in the community as an activist, including with the violence prevention group 100 Men Standing.
On the topic of crime, Edwards hopes to focus on how the justice system rehabilitates juveniles after committing a crime, particularly repeat offenders.
“I think we need a better juvenile facility where kids actually go to get rehabilitated, where they have structure and are taught vocational skills, even a spiritual education,” Edwards said. “We also need to look at how we can help the families they are going home to once they are out, so they go back to a better foundation.”
To promote employment, Edwards said wants vocational jobs available, noting this training can start in schools.
“We need to create more jobs that reach the everyday people that may have a limited education or a limited skill set,” Edwards said.
Focusing on schools, Edwards will push for more transparency on how officials allocate funds, particularly how they use the lottery to fund schools. Edwards added he would look at how decision makers could allocate casino profits to fund schools and teachers’ salaries.
“Teachers do more than just teach academics; they become social workers, police, the parent,” Edwards said. “So why should they struggle with a salary? There should be more safeguards to ensure salaries and school funding are protected.”
Edwards does not support term limits for elected officials – if they keep working for voters’ best interests.
“As long as they are serving the public trusts and interest, I don’t think we need it,” Edwards said.
For information, email email@example.com.
Nicole “Nikki” Harvey is director of constituency development programs and operations for Congressman Danny K. Davis, who is backing Harvey in her campaign. Harvey said she is a native West Sider focused on making the community a better place.
“I’m entrenched and equipped to lead as the voice of our community, and I’m running to fight for all,” Harvey said. “I want to make sure that, in our district, no matter what someone’s ZIP code appears to be, everyone has the opportunity to clearly prosper.”
To address crime, Harvey said she will look at poverty in particular as well as other factors that contribute.
“We also have to look at removing military style weapons off the street, look at taxing ammunition, education and mentoring programs that can actually aid in diversion, diversion programming, restoring behavioral health and mental health and making them more accessible, and true transparency for our reentering citizens by creating effective plans that will aid in their reintegration into society,” Harvey explained.
Concerning jobs, Harvey said she will work to create new opportunities, ensuring all opportunities are transparent and accessible to all residents. To promote new jobs, Harvey suggests green energy as the key, as the economy moves from carbon-based to more green alternatives.
“There are so many ways we can change and become green, creating jobs with windmills, and making sure we have clean water and clean energy,” Harvey said, including educating constituents on green jobs “so they can stay employed and bring others in at the same time.”
Harvey favors the evidence-based model when looking at funding schools, determining which schools need funding most. To support education and help fund pensions, Harvey supports the graduated income tax, which “would not increase property taxes and gives relief to our families and communities within our district,” Harvey said.
To learn more about Harvey, visit www.votenikki.org or call (773) 217-8571.
Trina Mangrum is the chief of staff to Alderman Jason C. Ervin in the 28th Ward and previously worked in the same position in the 24th Ward. In those roles, she has worked with City programs to help people purchase homes and avoid foreclosure and to provide seniors with affordable housing. Alderman Ervin and City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin have endorsed Mangrum.
Concerning the State’s pension crisis, Mangrum said she supports Governor Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax to help increase revenue streams to areas such as pensions, ensuring people get their promised benefits.
“I would not support a change to alter the benefits of current State pensioners,” Mangrum said. “Workers have paid their just dues, and we made promises. It’s time for us to keep those promises.”
Mangrum said the graduated income tax can support not just pensions, but schools. This approach would help alleviate the burden of increasing property taxes to fund schools, relieving the mounting burden on the middle and lower classes.
“It’s going to create a more equitable Illinois, as wealthy elites start contributing and lift the burden on the lower classes,” Mangrum said. “I’m not saying the graduated income tax will be a save-all, but it’s pushing in the right direction.”
Mangrum said she supports increasing the minimum wage, ensuring it aligns with the cost of living.
Crime constitutes another top priority for Mangrum, who said the topic hits close to home because her aunt was murdered two years ago. When she canvassed the community, she said she was met with fear of the police from people who did not want to get involved.
“We need to work on and bring back things that we know work, like better gun laws, distribution laws, community policing,” Mangrum said, noting distribution refers to regulating gun dealers and that Illinois recently implemented “certificate of license” guidelines that are more stringent than Federal licensing requirements. “We need to start on the basis of community trust, building a positive relationship between police, residents, organizations, and the community as a whole.”
With marijuana now legalized, Mangrum said she would push for more minority input so minorities reap the benefits of legalization.
“I would have loved to see more of those that look like me being a part of the ownership from the beginning,” Mangrum said. “I want minority input and minority ownership.”
To contact Mangrum, go to her website at www.TrinaMangrum.com orcall (773) 533-0900.
Sandra “Sandi” Schneller works in healthcare, staffing nursing facilities across the State of Illinois and parts of Wisconsin. Schneller, who has a BA in political science and a master’s degree in American
politics and public affairs, additionally has been an entrepreneur, emphasizing an interest in economic development, particularly when it comes to jobs.
One of Schneller’s main focuses if elected is crime in Illinois; she would advocate for a zero tolerance policy on gun violence. To address crime further, Schneller mentioned the importance of bringing new jobs to the area, filling people’s lives with more positive outlets.
She added that, instead of focusing on increasing the number of police officers, she would advocate for a crime lab to offer more resources to solve crimes.
“Our babies are dying every single day on our street corners,” Schneller said. “They are the next generation that are going to take care of not only us, but our district, our city, our state, and our country. We need change now.”
Schneller is focused on creating new jobs in the 9th District. With experience as an entrepreneur and a focus on business development, Schneller said that, as the State Representative, she would work to ensure businesses hire within the communities they occupy, keeping dollars in the neighborhood.
“We want to keep money in the community so that businesses can bring value into people’s lives, their family’s lives, providing jobs and decreasing crime,” Schneller said. “It’s all cyclical.”
She wants to start job generation efforts on the district’s West Side, which she said receives less attention and investment than the North Side. She stressed the importance of providing services such as job training programs and bringing them to residents’ attention so they can gain skills to get new jobs.
To learn more about Schneller, visit her website at electsandi2020.com.
Born and raised in the 9th District, Aaron Turner, who currently serves as the legislative liaison for the Illinois Housing Development Authority, hopes to fill the seat his brother, Arthur Turner, the current State Representative for the 9th District, holds. Their father, Arthur Turner Sr., held the post before that.
“This isn’t a legacy seat for me,” Aaron Turner said. “It’s not like we are passing the seat down. It’s not about my father or my brother. It’s about the people of the 9th District. I understand the process and policy, and most of all I understand the sacrifice and the level of commitment. I’m humbled by the chance to run and stand on the shoulders of some very great men who have represented the 9th District before me.”
On crime, Turner said the district must address the elements of crime in order to reduce them.
“I don’t think anyone is born a criminal,” Turner said. “No one is born with a gun. So when we talk about crime, we need to look at education, job opportunities, and opening more mental health facilities. There’s no silver bullet.”
Jobs form part of the means to address crime. Turner said he hopes to create new jobs by supporting local businesses and focusing on job training that is up to date with industry trends.
“We have a forever evolving society with technology moving very fast, so we need to have people that are trained and have on-the-job training so people can stay in tune with their particular function,” Turner said.
Turner added he hopes to review how officials can allocate different funds to support schools better, including marijuana dispensary profits. He noted dispensaries offer an area for producing jobs.
“There’s a big opportunity to get benefits if we make sure the funds are distributed equally and with sensibility,” Turner said.
Learn more about Turner at aaronturner2020.com.