She Runs Illinois 2020! — Joan Padilla, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 71

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

She Votes Illinois is pleased to feature Joan Padilla, running for IL House of Representatives, District 71. 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.

Joan Padilla, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 71
Joan Padilla, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 71

Tell us about yourself

My name is Joan Padilla. I am running for State Rep of the 71st district because I care. I want to improve the quality of life for those that live in the 71st communities. I want to improve Illinois. I am a wife, married to Tom for 33 years. I am a mother of four, Christian, Leo, Rachel & Vincent. I also have been blessed with two beautiful granddaughters, Iris & Sadie.

I was impressed to run for office after hearing Senator Barack Obama share these words,” your community is only as strong as what you are ready to put into it.”

Tell us about the women in your life

I believe women share a unique experience of understanding and empowering one another. I have been blessed with many women influencing my life and my mission through leadership, compassion, forgiveness, and fortitude. Ann, would consider herself being in the best role a woman could be, a mother to five. I learned from her the gift of listening. When you were with her, no matter the chaos surrounding her, YOU were the focus of her attention. I try to emulate this every day in my life, my job and now on the campaign trail. Penny was my first jump into politics, she was the candidate for State Rep. We had met through, her being my dental patient and she spoke of her campaign and why she was running. Her energy, her strength and her intelligence pulled me in wanting to learn more. I volunteered for her and enjoyed the times we canvassed together. Her passion and conviction were [are] contagious and her work ethic had a deep impression on me then and to this day. As I canvass myself, I reflect often on Penny’s stamina and approach to meeting with the voters. Penny was instrumental in encouraging me to run for our local Community College Board of Trustees. The board had to replace a member to fill the term of one that had stepped down. Penny recommended me and I sat for an interview. I did not get selected, but ran on my own in the upcoming election and won.

There are so many women whether in politics or not that challenge me to step up and be the voice, to bring positive change to my community. The field of women leaders is strong and diverse. I want to have the resilience of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the grit of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the perseverance of Gloria Steinem along with the compassion and service of my grandmothers.

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

As I shared above, I got involved in politics by the encouragement of a local candidate and the challenge of Barack Obama of making my community the best it can be. I am running for State Representative in the 71st district because I feel our current representative is not fulfilling the role. She is a place holder, taking up space and not bringing about the growth and opportunity promised when she first ran. I know my dedication and focus will serve the district well to bring an improved quality of life for the people

Candidate Joan Padilla wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The global pandemic has brought to forefront many disparities of our economic, healthcare and social service systems. As State Rep I would focus on policy and programs to support small businesses in the community as they are the economic back bone. I would bring to the table public and private entities to infuse much needed financial support through grants and no interest loans to the businesses directly harmed. I liken it to the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the towns people making a run on the bank for their money, George Bailey played by Jimmy Stewart, imploring the customers to just get “what they need to get by.” We are in unchartered waters and it will take leadership to see it to the end.

Recognizing that systemic racism is built into policies and laws, what changes to policies and laws are you prioritizing for change/implementation in order to address systemic racism and why?

Currently the Black Lives Matter movement shows clearly the need for reform in our police departments. I would like to see an overhaul of the training in our Police academies, the recruitment of candidates and the curriculum. I would like to implement more of the social sciences into the program. I would focus on policies that require mandated continuing education for all officers, possibly requiring certification or licensure. We need to insist that the academy brings in the right candidates for the program. There should be testing and very thorough review process to weed out those that don’t meet the standards necessary.

What is the most important policy you could implement that would help women in your district?

As a working mom and now grandmother, I live and see the challenges that mothers face when it comes to caregiving of their children and families. We want our communities to be strong, we want our children educated and provided with a quality of life for them to succeed and thrive. Yet at onset of becoming a mother, a woman has to consider working or staying at homeland the stress and heartache. I will focus on policy that minimizes the stress of their decision by implementing universal childcare in Illinois. I will work with major employers and private foundations to put in place safe and nurturing centers that mothers will have access to as they need. Many childcare centers require sign up for long term, paying for a service that you may only need part of time. Many childcare centers have high turnover because rate of pay/benefits is not supporting the employee. We need to acknowledge that these employees are the caregivers of our future, the position needs to reflect the importance with a livable wage for day care providers.

I would also like to implement paid maternity leave for 12 months knowing that it is crucial for the child to have this time with the mother.

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

This is my second attempt for this seat. Looking back what I know now and didn’t know is the reality of not having the support of your party. Party strategy policy is keeping very good candidates from running. If you are not the targeted race you as a candidate are fettered from the onset. The powers that be control the purse strings and the channeling of resources. To be viable you have to raise money, to raise money you have to viable or handpicked and crowned by the party élite. It can be very disheartening. I believe the party should offer start up revenue for each candidate going into the general election to help get them up and running.

Closing comments

As the director of a non profit cancer wellness center, I see and hear daily how fragile life is. An unexpected diagnosis or tragedy creates hardship for already struggling families. As a community member and as State Representative, I feel there is a responsibility to help in those times of need. For children to reach their potential they need security and stability. Our elderly should live in dignity, not worried about staying in their homes, affording medical care or being hungry. Together we can lift each other up. As the voice of the 71st in Springfield, I will be there to fight for those that feel forgotten. That is how we will Grow the 71st and follow the mission of our Constitution providing opportunity for the fullest development of the individual.

If you would like to learn more about Joan Padilla and her platform or volunteer for her campaign, please check out her website at Don’t forget to follow her on Facebook at @PadillaforIllinois. 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.)



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She Votes Illinois

She Votes Illinois focuses on making sure the political system in Illinois reflects the voices of all women and femmes in Illinois.