She Runs Illinois 2020! — Charlene Eads, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 79

She Runs Illinois 2020! uplifting the voices of Illinois women running for office

She Votes Illinois is pleased to feature Charlene Eads, running for IL House of Representatives, District 79. Follow our series, She Runs Illinois 2020!, leading up to election day as we showcase and uplift the voices of Illinois women running for public office in the upcoming election.

Charlene Eads, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 79
Charlene Eads, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 79
Charlene Eads, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 79

Tell us about yourself

I am a social worker at Shapiro Development Center. I have lived in Kankakee County for almost 30 years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree from Olivet University and my Master’s Degree from Governors State University. During that time, I volunteered to work at Garden of Prayer to help kids with after school programs. I also volunteered at Wildwood Church of the Nazarene as a Sunday School teacher. I have been at Shapiro Development Center for almost nineteen years. I helped with campaigns and ran for precinct committeeperson in Bradley. I also joined the NAACP political chapter.

At Shapiro, I joined the union and eventually became an active member of AFSCME Local 29 as a union steward. I started protesting with my union brothers and sisters for fair benefits and wages for union workers. At that time that I decided to get involved in politics. I realized that who we elect as our leaders make a big difference in our lives. I helped with campaigns and ran for Democratic precinct committeeperson.

Tell us about the women in your life

One of the most influential political women in my life is Rosa Parks. I always admired her bravery and tenacity to stand up against racial injustice at a time when it seemed inconceivable for racial equality. My twin sister is also one I admire. She was left to be single mother for about 8 years and she managed to put herself through college with 3 little boys. I still can’t imagine what she went through. The biggest challenge I have faced as a woman in politics is having to work twice as hard to rise up to the challenge and especially being a woman of color. But I never forget to be as strong and as unwavering as Rosa Parks was. And through it all I have always felt blessed to be a woman

What led you into politics? Why are you running for THIS office?

During my time with the Democratic Party of Kankakee, I decided to run for County Board in 2016. Then decided to run for State Representative. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines discussing politics. I wanted to bring fairness and transparency to government.

Candidate Charlene Eads (left) hosting a mask giveaway and Center of Hope toiletries drive.

If you were currently in office, how would you use your office to address the economic harm from COVID19 in your community?

During these stressful times, I will advocate for full funding for mental health and substance abuse services. I am also running to bring the needed resources to the 79th District to rebuild our infrastructure and increase opportunities for all its citizens.

What do you believe the greatest challenges are to creating a more racially just legal and political system?

Unfortunately, racism is our biggest challenge. It stymies efforts to create a more racially just legal and political system. There are too many black and brown men and women in our prison systems. There are also many prisoners who have mental health issues also.

What are the most overlooked issues from a policy perspective impacting women in your district?

I think many women are struggling with raising children and/or taking care of their parents on their own. Access to childcare is an important issue in my district. Unfortunately, we have had a Governor who decimated our social services. Those spending cuts devastated many not for profit organizations who were providing direct services to families; many of them single households.

What do you wish you had known before you decided to run for office?

The joy of connecting with voters. As a social worker, many feel comfortable talking to me about local and state policies that impact their families.

Closing comments

Many expressed their concern for fairness in our country. As a union steward, mother, and first- generation immigrant, I understand the barriers that some may face in fighting for fairness. I want to be your voice for fairness in the 79th District.

If you would like to learn more about Charlene Eads and her platform or volunteer for her campaign, please check out her website at Charlene-Eads.com. Don’t forget to follow her on Facebook. Reach out today and help make a difference in the upcoming 2020 election.

(The information contained in this post is provided only as general information and does not imply an endorsement by She Votes Illinois.)

She Votes Illinois is a statewide political action committee dedicated to facilitating engagement, participation & support of women in all aspects of politics.