Over the past decade, the promise of Illinois – economic opportunity, social mobility, and education – has been broken. In the State House, I will vote for my constituents and for everyone to have safety and meaningful opportunity.
I will fight for legislation to support the working and middle class by investing in our local businesses and teachers, pass statewide healthcare, create more affordable housing and build new pathways to home ownership, build a green economy with new good-paying jobs, fight to end gun violence, and protect our children.
Covid-19 caused economic difficulties for millions of Americans and many in the Illinois 13th State District, which includes important business corridors in our neighborhoods of Uptown, Ravenswood, Andersonville, Lincoln Square, and Lake View. Businesses have shut down, evictions and foreclosures have run rampant, and essential workers in every field from healthcare to food service and transportation remain underpaid and are exhausted. We must do better, and the state government has an important role to play.
In the State Legislature, I will fight for:
- Small businesses
- Benefits and legal protections for workers
- Better pay and protections for caregivers, childcare workers, and teachers
We need to level the playing field for small businesses so they can grow and create jobs in our communities and empower folks to build towards a better future for their families. We need to simplify small business compliance and tax costs, and repeal wasteful special interest subsidies. Starting and running a business should be as easy as possible to ensure everyone who dreams of owning a successful business can do so.
Benefits and legal protections for workers. Working-class folks should be able to earn a living wage and be able to afford housing, food, and everyday necessities. I will also fight for paid family and medical leave for all employees, because no one should be choosing between a job and supporting their family. Childcare needs to be more widely accessible. If we want to reach our full potential, we must invest in people.
My mother came from a single-mother household. I was raised by strong women, who worked in factories. Full equality for women is long overdue and I am committed to passing legislation that eliminates the systemic barriers that reinforce inequality.
We need to make equal pay for equal work a reality. Today, for every dollar that a man makes, a woman earns just 79 cents, and the gap is far higher for women of color – Black women only earn 62 cents and Latina women earn 54 cents. I will push for policy that holds employers accountable for pay discrimination between men and women.
More than 2.9 million women left the U.S. labor workforce since February 2020 during this pandemic. Working women often took on care-taker roles and family responsibilities. I will push for policy to support robust paid family and medical leave, and a statewide public option for childcare to allow women the ability to work and provide for their families.
As the economy recovers from the pandemic, we must also invest in women-owned businesses and make it easier for women to become entrepreneurs to pursue their passions. We cannot fully recover as a community until the gains that women have made in the workplace over the past decades – many of which were set back by Covid-19, are restored and strengthened.
Every woman should a right to choose and should have complete bodily autonomy in the U.S., in addition to access to contraceptives of their choosing.
As the devastating ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has now overturned 49 years of settled law granting Women the right to an abortion, it is a crisis moment for the nation and for Illinois. A woman’s right to choice is currently protected in Illinois, but more must be done. As a candidate for State Rep of IL 13th District I pledge to fight for the following:
-Codifying the right to choice in the Illinois Constitution.
-Enacting laws to protect not just our citizens but anyone coming here to receive reproductive health care full protection from other states anti-abortion laws.
-Ensuring that state law makes it so that all medical professionals–including nurses and physician’s assistants–who are qualified through their training to preform abortions are legally empowered to do so, and afford them full protections against other state’s laws.
-Durable funding to ensure access to culturally sensitive reproductive health care and abortion providers in our black and brown, immigrant, and other vulnerable & underserved communities, with expanded language access.
I believe that women have the right to control their own bodies and that government, other than protecting and expanding that right, should stay out of it. Comprehensive reproductive healthcare services should be available on demand and without apology.
Despite some gains in recent decades, more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans still face discrimination in their everyday lives and the number rises to more than 4 in 5 for transgender individuals. Our community is home to many LGBTQ+ individuals. Recognizing that members of the LGBTQ+ community are four times more likely to be victims of violent crimes, we must do more to ensure that all of our neighbors feel safe and accepted.
That is why I will support all efforts to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in employment, credit, education, and housing, and build up the LGBTQ+ community, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. When we look at other states around us, we see laws in process or passed to remove the rights of transgender youth to gender-affirming care or label it as child abuse. There are also states that are considering removing the right to healthcare for any trans person. It is critical that we make Illinois a sanctuary state for those seeking refuge from other states’ anti-trans laws. In the State House, I will:
- Support taking away overly restrictive ID change laws in Illinois, so that individuals are acknowledged by our government and are able to live authentically;
- Build laws to ensure that gender-affirming care is available to everyone in Illinois;
- Work with state and local partners and stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of laws and policies that allow transgender people to experience dignity and safety in their everday lives.
- Work to further protections for transgender Illinoisans and investigate any murders of trans individuals as hate crimes;
- Push for a faster rollout of the state’s third gender option on driver licenses and identification cards;
- Seek further funding for mental healthcare services to address higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidiality in transgender youth; and
- Fight to increase resources available for community groups and organizations that work with and for transgender people and transgender youth that don’t have supportive families.
Our state has a fast-growing senior population. Almost 1 in 6 Illinoisans is 60 or older. All senior citizens deserve to live in dignity after retirement and everyone with a disability needs security.
No senior should have to choose between paying for their prescription drugs over their rent. I will fight for legislation to support our seniors by:
- Updating our senior care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities to meet the needs of our growing senior population;
- Reduce backlog of low-income seniors and Illinoisans with disabilities who are unable to receive in-home services by investing in our caregiver workforce with increased pay and benefits; and
- Lift seniors with low-income out of poverty by increasing their benefits to a livable amount.
- Ensuring that medication is affordable.
Healthcare is a human right. I have seen relatives struggle to afford healthcare and friends set up fundraising pages to cover medical expenses after a tragic accident to cover surgeries. No patient should get sicker because they can’t afford to go to the hospital or go into debt to pay their hospital bills. No doctor should have to haggle with an insurance adjuster about the costs of life-saving drugs for a patient. No parent should have to choose between paying for their child’s medical costs over their rent.
I support Medicare for All at the federal level, but we cannot allow Washington dysfunction to excuse a lack of imagination in Springfield. Not while people are dying from overinflated costs. The country of Norway is half the size of Illinois and figured out a way to make healthcare universal and free. Single payer systems reduce overall costs, remove insurance agents from the medical decision making process, and reduce the time doctors and other health professionals must spend doing billing-related paperwork. Illinois should set a target of providing every resident with free comprehensive healthcare, including dental, vision, hearing, reproductive care, long-term care services, within the next ten years. Doing so would elevate Illinois as a magnet for businesses and talent across every industry. More importantly, it would set an entire generation free to pursue their business interests and entrepreneurship, create jobs, and unleash the true potential of every Illinoisan.
We need climate justice, not just climate action. We need a long-term plan to invest, innovate, and get serious about solutions. I support a Green New Deal approach for Illinois to solving the climate crisis, where we take the national lead in green technology and infrastructure. We must invest now in the transition away from our fossil fuels and put an immediate freeze on permit approvals on fossil fuel projects.
As we invest in a new future, we must recognize the systemic harm that toxic materials, waste dumping, and fossil fuels have had on low-income communities of color. Neighborhoods and communities who suffered from toxic air quality and other environmental contaminations from dirty fuel sources should be first in line to receive the benefits of our green revolution.
Building a green economy in Illinois would create new jobs and new opportunities for sustainable prosperity. I will work to bring new jobs and industries to the 13th district and create programs to provide job training for at-risk communities in green technology to create more employment opportunities. The climate problem is both global and local – we must do our part here in the 13th district to ensure a clean and safe environment for our kids, our grandkids, and their grandkids.
Public Safety & Gun Violence Prevention
Every one of us needs to feel safe in our neighborhoods and communities. Over 1,000 homicides occurred in Cook County in 2021. More than 250 kids have been victims of gunfire in Chicago, the youngest, a 1-month-old baby. We need action now to protect our families and children from senseless violence.
We must increase funding for community-based violence intervention programs and address underlying issues that are contributing to gun violence such as lack of opportunity, hate crimes, and mental health. We must also make sure that there is accountability for violent crimes that harm our children and families. The violence and crime that has plagued Chicago in recent years is the tragic result of poverty, economic desperation, and systemic issues with policing.
There is a lot of work to be done with mass incarceration and criminal injustice in Illinois. I support legislation to hold police officers accountable and require better training for police members. At the same time, we need to reduce the burden on officers. Too often they are called to respond to emergency situations when other trained professionals should be called – a system that has led to the criminalization of mental health issues. This has resulted in a dangerous mental health crisis in our prisons.
The Cook County Jail has housed more individuals suffering from mental health illness than the population of any psychiatric hospital for years and is one of the largest mental health facilities in the country. But Cook County Jail is not equipped, staffed, or trained to handle such cases.
The inhumanity of these conditions at Cook County Jail were on full display when the Covid-19 pandemic led to the deaths of 10 incarcerated individuals and 5 employees in 2020.
I support innovative programs that focus on criminal diversion of those who have mental health issues. I will push for resources to be invested in a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) – a voluntary division of the police patrol that trains officers on intervention tactics to help those suffering from mental illness. I will defend and expand external measures to investigate police-civilian conflicts, including complaints against officers. Creating better oversight and accountability for every officer will allow the great officers to rise to the top and create a safer environment.
Affordable Housing and Houselessness
Housing is a human right, and every person deserves housing that is clean, safe, and affordable. When affordable housing is unavailable, it is impossible for our neighbors and loved ones to save for and invest in their future. It often means that entire households live daily with the immense anxiety caused by living paycheck to paycheck. For many, outsized housing costs mean folks cannot meet other basic needs like adequate healthcare and food purchases. In the most acute cases, unaffordable housing leads directly to homelessness.
Homelessness is the symptom of systemic injustices in our city and state: lack of affordable housing, a failed healthcare system, domestic violence, untreated mental health, addiction disorders, and many other sudden or unforeseen circumstances. This issue is dear to my heart – my mother experienced homelessness at one point, and I proudly serve on the board of a women’s housing organization in Uptown.
To address this problem, I will support legislation to:
- Ensure affordable units are included in large new developments. For those already experiencing homelessness, we need to adopt “Housing First” strategies that provide immediate housing for individuals. This approach is far less costly than emergency and institutional care such as hospitals, correctional facilities, and shelters;
- Widen our housing options, including mixed-income housing and tiny homes; and
- Invest in innovative housing models, allowing Chicagoans to earn homeownership, and ensure that Chicago remains an affordable place to live, work, and raise a family!
- Implement a cap on rent increases
- Provide the right to counsel for anyone undergoing eviction proceedings
- Implement a just cause requirement for evictions
- Expand the Chicago Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance to all Illinois tenants
Transportation and Infrastructure
We need to invest in our infrastructure system. We must invest in our roads, railways, technology systems, and public transportation systems with clean energy.
I will push for bold investments to ensure equitable transportation and transit in our communities, clean energy sources, and adequate emergency responses and innovation by:
- Expanding Chicago’s public transportation options in low-income areas
Continuing to push for existing trains and buses to run on clean energy and reduce gas emissions;
- Closing the digital divide and bringing broadband access to all households in the 13th District; and
- Building out our technology infrastructure to transform our community co-working and office spaces to be innovative technology ecosystems.
Mental Health and Addiction
Chicago has a mental health and addiction crisis. Covid-19 caused stress, worry, and trauma to nearly every individual in our communities and state. Drug-related deaths and those battling substance use disorders in Illinois has increased. Suicide rates have risen among our young people and returning Veterans.
So many Chicagoans are in need of mental health services and treatment, but do not have access or cannot afford care. We need to protect our loved ones, neighbors, and communities by ensuring everyone can get the treatment they need.
I will push for a comprehensive plan that will revolutionize mental health and substance use treatment in our communities, and Illinois by:
- Defending and expanding our current mental health and addiction treatment centers. Funding for these centers continues to be cut, while the need increases. We need to ensure that everyone can access resources and treatment;
- Passing a Statewide Mental Health Plan to provide emergency funding for mental health providers to deal with the mental health fallout from Covid-19;
- Expanding telemedicine and suicide prevention services. Telemedicine has been integral to mental health medicine during the pandemic and is a great option to allow people a convenient option for care. However, there are long waiting lists. We must make sure this telemedicine option is available even as in-person appointments open back up; and
- Making mental health clinics available to our most vulnerable. We need to ensure that our most vulnerable population gets the help that they need instead of landing in Cook County Jail, turning to substance use, suicide, etc.
As a Vietnam War refugee, I am the beneficiary of a K-12 public education that gave me the foundational tools I needed to excel in life. Public schools can and should be hubs of the community where learning is celebrated and valued. Unfortunately, public schools in Chicago have been chronically underfunded for decades. Too often, our children are being left behind, and teachers and parents are not getting the resources they need.
Teachers are paying out of pocket for costs like pencils, paper, and reading materials. I support giving a state tax credit to teachers in high-poverty schools so that we can retain quality educators and give all students access to a great education. I also support transparency in an accountable school board that makes decisions to help our students, our families, and teachers.
Our students face poverty, violence, homelessness, and mental health issues outside of school, and during this Covid-19 pandemic. I will push for comprehensive legislation that makes our public schools not only better funded but ensures that funding is used to benefit all aspects of students’ lives.
On the local level, an important initiative is to make all CPS schools part of a Sustainable Community District. This is a transformative measure that help us move away from student based budgeting, which rewards the schools that already have resources, and starves the schools that don’t. Together, we can ensure that our kids get the resources that they need.
As a refugee, I believe that no human being is illegal and I will always support legislation that protects undocumented immigrants and their families. I see the immigrants at our borders and know all they want is the same safety my family found in America – the safety that so many of our ancestors sought here. We need to make Illinois a more welcoming place for immigrants by leading in immigrant inclusion policies, starting with providing additional resources for skilled job training, language and mental health resources, for newly arrived individuals. I would also propose allocating additional resources to community non-profit organizations that would help immigrants navigate and apply for public benefits, receive legal assistance, apply for permanent residence, and access educational initiatives.
The CDC estimates that 61 million adults in America are living with a disability – that’s nearly one in four adults. Despite their large numbers, this group of people is consistently treated unfairly and inhumanely by public policies at every level of government. At the federal level, an income threshold of 70% of the federal poverty level means that people can only receive benefits if they keep themselves in poverty. This can also prevent people from marrying who they love when doing so could jeopardize their access to needed benefits. Labor laws include exemptions that allow employers to pay people living with a disability less than the minimum wage. These policies are immoral and unhelpful and they need to change.
If elected, I will fight to ensure every person in Illinois who is living with a disability has access to affordable treatment options and that eligibility is not based on criteria that force people to remain in poverty in order to access benefits. I will also support legislation to ban minimum wage exemptions for people living with disabilities, bringing Illinois in line with states like Alaska, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington that have acted end this practice. Disability rights are human rights and with Covid-19 set to become one of the largest mass disabling events in history, there has never been a more important time to act to protect this community.
Build Safer Streets
In our city streets, we see a rise in pedestrian deaths, and especially alarming is that many of the victims are young children. There is no reason for pedestrian deaths to be occurring in our neighborhoods, and as part of the greening of our transportation infrastructure, we propose to overhaul the way that traffic moves about our cities. This means immediate funding for safe, protected bike lanes, more greenways, and extensive traffic calming measures on city roads in our state. This is integral to making people want to be outside walking, shopping at small businesses, and talking with each other, and will help us to keep building strong community bonds in our neighborhoods.