Why I am Running

 

I grew up in Glenview, then moved back here to raise my family. I enjoyed living the average suburban life: a mom, a teacher and active in my community. On April 14, 2010 an event happened that defined my life. While driving to work, my husband, Michael was hit head on by a truck. The accident resulted in the loss of his left arm. The driver who hit him had the lowest amount of insurance allowed in Illinois.

After a monthʼs stay in the hospital, Michael returned home, and we tried to find our new ʻnormal.ʼ We thought recovering would be our biggest challenge until we learned that our insurance company was trying to rescind our policy, and it denied all of our medical bills. Faced with nearly a half-million dollars in medical debt, we considered selling our house and cashing in all our savings to pay the bills. How frightening it was to have the rug pulled out from under us.

During this time of uncertainty, confusion and depression, our family and our community stepped up to help us through our shock and recovery. Our friends and neighbors did all they could to make life as easy as possible for us. For months, dinners would show up on our doorstep every night, schedules were made to help drive our kids to and from activities, and an enormous block party was thrown in honor of Michael. Our political community also stepped forward to help us. With the help of local elected officials, a plan was in place to challenge the insurance company, as no family should suffer the way we were suffering.

It took many months and the threat of a lawsuit before the insurance company decided there was no legal ground to rescind our policy, and they finally paid the bills. The life lessons learned during this time were invaluable. Now, it is my turn to try to give back to my community for the help it provided my family.

An important responsibility of any lawmaker is constituent services. I want to provide accessible and successful constituent services for residents in the 17th district. So many people are disenchanted with what they see as unresolved conflicts in Springfield. One way to remind people that the government can work on their behalf is by providing a convenient way to answer questions and solve problems.

During my first term in office, with my family’s story and experiences indelibly burned into my mind, I hit the ground running, rolled up my sleeves and went to work!   One of my first pieces of legislation that I sponsored was an increase in the minimum auto insurance liability coverage in Illinois.  While increasing these limits has been tried many times since the law took effect in the 1980’s, the opposition and a very strong insurance lobby prevented anything from occurring.  I worked tirelessly and developed a rapport with all sides to eventually garnish the bipartisan support to pass this bill, which became a law on January 1, 2014.

An important responsibility of any lawmaker is constituent services.  I was elected by my constituents to be their voice and resource in Springfield!  I made it my number one priority to make my office available and accessible to the residents of the 17th District.  Moreover, many of my ideas for new legislation were inspired and brought to me by some of our incredible constituents!  In fact, legislation sponsored by Laura and grown out of a backyard conversation dealing with cyberbullying was recently signed into law.  Again, this is much more than a job to me; it is a privilege and duty that I take very seriously.  I do my best to keep my constituents informed via monthly newsletters, educational forums, etc.

Another priority concerns jobs and the economy in my district. Many view the northern suburbs as an area where unemployment and hunger are irrelevant concerns. Such a viewpoint is a falsehood. The Northfield Township Food Pantry serves nearly 700 families living in Glenview, Northbrook and Northfield. Many of these clients were at one time donors to the pantry instead of recipients. We need to focus on ways to get residents back to work. We need to coordinate efforts between local businesses and the state to ensure families will no longer struggle to stay in their homes and feed their families.

Yet another priority is our children and their education.  We are fortunate to live in a district with high quality schools.  We have to make sure our schools are able to sustain their outstanding level of achievement without putting additional pressure on taxpayers and that children are safe while getting their education.

The high cost of insurance and the responsibilities insurance providers have to their customers is of great importance. We can no longer have corporations dictating the type of health care we receive.  We also need to make sure seniors have affordable access to prescription drugs. In addition, there are ways to both improve and streamline health care that can save the state millions of dollars. Both accessible preventative care and proper medical follow up can prevent relapse and save patients and taxpayers money to avoid an overlap of services.

At the same time, we need to focus on bringing integrity back to Springfield. Many Illinois residents are disgusted with unscrupulous politicians and gridlock in state government. Lawmakers need to buckle down and get to work addressing the budget and resolving the pension issue. One of my goals is to find reasonable fiscal solutions to the stateʼs problems.  We need to look at long term ways to resolve these issues instead of short term, band aid like fixes that bring the same problems back to the surface in the future. In order to accomplish these goals, we need to bring all parties involved to the table and open the arena to new ideas.