If someone had asked me last April what I would be doing in nine months, well, running for state representative wouldn’t have been my first answer. I was, and am still, committed to making Forest Park the best it can be, and there are other ways to do that.
But in meeting with local leaders, and being part of a group that was looking to improve our representation in Springfield, one thing was clear: We, i.e. the entire district, deserve better. My desire to run for the 7th District state rep seat is fueled by: The condition of the state of Illinois, the current leadership of our district, and that leadership’s inattention to the issues of our district.
I watched from the sidelines for years as I saw our state and area governments fail us. I saw a system devised that benefited a few and threw the common man aside. It irked me and still does. As a part of Proviso, we have a failed school system that for decades has not put children first. It would rather function as a contract warehouse, offering paydays for all of the donors and city leaders that prop it up. It irked me more when the person who ran that school board into the ground, to the point where the state had to step in and oversee its finances, got a “promotion” to the state assembly.
I think we can do better.
Illinois’ leadership is failing its citizenry in every way. Neglect and lack of long-term planning has cost the state jobs and growth and helped contribute to the monstrous pension crisis. Lawmakers set on advancing their careers and not looking out for who they represent fuels my desire to try and change a system on a path to self-destruct.
We need to immediately address the pension crisis, and we first must realize and respect that, in doing so, we know that the people who have for years paid into the system expecting certain results are 100 percent entitled to those results. The future structure needs to be examined with fairness and concern for the worker.
Illinois also suffers from being a taxpayer’s nightmare. Out-of-control property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes make living here more costly than most other places in the United States. Add the business burden and that is why we have people and commerce fleeing this once-strong state.
Illinois has been late to the game in social justice as well. Whether it’s equality issues, wage issues or crime issues, we have lacked any kind of leadership in this area. I strongly recommend that the way, and the rate, we imprison people be rethought. Nonviolent offenders clog up an overcrowded system, and small-time drug crimes need to be dealt with via community service and by not derailing one’s life.
That last issue can be talked about locally as well. We need local programs and outreach for first-time and nonviolent offenders. Working to keep people active and engaged in the community is better than removing them.
On a bigger scale, our district suffers from neglect by our rep and the state. I see empty storefronts and half-filled industrial parks blocks from my home in either direction. Economic development is not saying you will just do something; it is being out courting people and businesses to come to your district. You can look in every direction from Rep. Welch’s office in Westchester and see empty businesses.
Which leads me to our current leadership. Being propped up by local leaders, we have a shill for a state rep. Just going by his resume as the president of the D209 school board, he should have been fired long ago, not promoted to a state legislature job. He ran a school district into the ground without a care for the students. He used the board for his own personal gain and financial gain for all of those who supported him throughout the years.
He continues to do this in Springfield by passing legislation that benefits his donors and sells us down the river. The state of Illinois, at all levels of government, needs to gut the vampires who still see the state as a place where they can achieve personal and financial gain versus doing the work of, and for, the people of Illinois.
I look forward to the next couple of months and laying out my plan to return this office to the people. Please drop me a line if you’d like to chat more about it: Harris4StateRep@gmail.com