She Runs Illinois 2020! — Denyse Wang Stoneback, candidate for IL House Rep, District 16
She Votes Illinois is pleased to feature Denyse Wang Stoneback, running for IL House of Representatives, District 16. 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.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in the 16th District of Illinois. Growing up, I attended public schools, and later my son attended all the same public schools that I did. I have lived in Skokie for over 30 years, and feel that my views and values reflect those of the district.
As a community organizer, I have a strong commitment to public service, and I know how to get things done in the community and in Springfield.
Tell us about the women in your life
I have had the very good fortune to have many strong female role models throughout my life. My mother, Marilyn Wang, and her sister, my aunt, Arlene Mazzone, were raised during the Great Depression. They both grew to be highly educated women ahead of their time. My mother dedicated her life to education and service, in addition to family. She earned three Masters degrees in her lifetime. My aunt earned her PhD in Genetics and traveled the world attending scientific conferences as one of the first women to rise in the ranks of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as to research with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard Medical School.
As an activist and community organizer, I have also drawn inspiration from historical figures, and in particular, Jane Addams, from Cedarville, Illinois. Her commitment to the common good was evident in her relentless work for the poor and most marginalized of society as well as her advocacy for nonviolent social change. She believed that women’s voices should be heard and dedicated her life to public service.
All of these women made a difference, improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. As a state legislator, I will strive to do the same.
As a community organizer I have always worked to lift the voices of women. I organized and led groups to rallies, protests, and events on various issues, as well as the Women’s Marches.
I have watched in dismay how women’s rights have come under threat by the current White House Administration. I believe that in order for policies to consider women, women lawmakers need to have a seat at the table.
What led you into politics? Why are you running for THIS office?
After the Sandy Hook School shooting, I founded the Illinois gun violence prevention nonprofit People for a Safer Society (PFSS), based in Skokie. I was a primary and early advocate for Gun Dealer Certification which was signed into law in January of 2019. I researched, reviewed, and provided input on this policy, and helped educate the public and state legislators on why the law was needed.
I helped build the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition. Together with our partner organizations we moved five measures through the legislature in 2018 and two of them — the Firearms Restraining Order and the 72-hour-waiting period — were signed into law with veto-proof majorities by our previous governor.
These experiences helped me to become interested in Illinois state government, and now I am running to be an inclusive, progressive leader for my incredibly diverse district. I am passionate about issues that this community cares about, and I know how to get things done in the community and in Springfield.
If you were currently in office, how would you use your office to address the economic harm from COVID19 in your community?
I would support small businesses owned by women and people of color. These groups often are overlooked and face the greatest challenges working while providing childcare and caring for other family members.
I would also support policies to drive economic growth, such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), which would create thousands of jobs and attract billions of dollars in clean energy private investment to our state, while at the same time impacting the climate crisis and racial injustice.
What do you believe the greatest challenges are to creating a more racially just legal and political system?
There are many challenges to creating a more racially just legal and political system. However, we must ensure that there is political will at all levels of government to make the needed changes by electing people who reflect the values of their communities on racial issues. In addition, we need to provide economic and educational opportunities for communities of color.
What are the most overlooked issues from a policy perspective impacting women in your district?
I believe that the impact of gun violence and domestic violence on women is often overlooked. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percent of women harmed by an intimate partner in their lifetime in Illinois (42 percent) is higher than the national average.
The vast majority of women murdered by men are killed by someone they know, and the most common weapon men use to murder women is a gun. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.
Since the female homicide victimization rate is closely tied to levels of gun ownership, in order to reduce lethal violence against women, we must keep guns away from domestic and intimate partner abusers.
What do you wish you had known before you decided to run for office?
As a first-time candidate, I wish I had possessed a better understanding of the time and effort to run and fund a successful campaign.
When elected, I will be the first woman to represent Illinois House District 16. As a mom, educator, community leader, and activist, I will fight for women’s rights. I will always stand up for women’s reproductive rights. I will work to protect people from discrimination, violence, and sexual harassment. I will fight for equal pay for equal work, and strive to improve social services to ease childcare and eldercare burdens. I believe that women’s rights are human rights, and I’m committed to fighting for women.
If you would like to learn more about Candidate Denyse Wang Stoneback and her platform or volunteer for her campaign, please check out her website at denyseforstaterep.com. Don’t forget to follow her on social media @DenyseforStateRep. 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.)