She Runs Illinois 2020! — Lakesia Collins, candidate for IL House of Representatives, District 9

She Runs Illinois 2020!
She Runs Illinois 2020!

She Votes Illinois is pleased to feature Lakesia Collins, incumbent, running for Illinois House of Representatives, District 9. 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.

IL House Rep Lakesia Collins, candidate for IL District 9
IL House Rep Lakesia Collins, candidate for IL District 9

Tell us about yourself

I was raised by my grandmother that was paralyzed on one side due to a stroke, my sister and I had to care for her when we were young, that was my introduction into health care. When my grandmother passed away I became a ward of the state.

After graduating high school, I had decided to go to college but while in school I got pregnant with my first son and I had to make a decision; finish school or take care of my child, and so I left school and that’s when I became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

While working in those nursing homes, I saw how low staffing levels and heavy workloads affected me and the seniors I worked for, it wasn’t fair for us: the workers or our residents. I was overworked, I was underpaid, and struggling to make ends meet. I decided something had to change. That’s when I got involved in my union, I worked to organize my co-workers to get the pay we deserve but to also put policy in place to make sure that nursing home workers all over the state have the protections they deserve. In 2010, I worked with my union to lobby legislators in Springfield and we successfully passed a groundbreaking nursing home reform bill in 2010 that helped to raise standards for workers and residents. That’s when I started realizing that there needs to be people who look like me, who have felt the effects of the policies in Springfield in the Legislature. In 2019, I decided to run for office because I know first hand what it’s like to be struggling to pay the bills, I know the effects of going to a school that isn’t fully funded, to worry about my sons when they go outside to play. I had been wanting to have an advocate in Springfield who looked like me, who would fight for me. One day I asked… why not me? I couldn’t find a good answer. So I decided to run for State Representative because I believe there needs to be more working class voices in our legislature.

Lakesia Collins speaking at Nursing Home Workers tea light vigil
Lakesia Collins speaking at Nursing Home Workers tea light vigil

Tell us about the women in your life

The women in my life today, my campaign staff, my mentors, major supporters are women. During my primary campaign, my campaign manager, fundraiser, & field director were all women. In addition to most of the field team and volunteers. Every day it was hard being told by men on the campaign trail who were running for the seat how I did not “ deserve” the seat, but I was always uplifted and encouraged by the women around me as we made our way to winning the primary. So to me, the women in my life, have made this change for me, and ultimately my district possible.

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

I got into politics because of my lived experience, I’m a single mother of three boys. I want them to go to schools that are fully funded, I want them to be able to do whatever they want to do. The reality is that so many students in our city are locked out of the future they want, because of our governments unwillingness to invest in our children. Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their potential, not just those living in certain zip codes. I’m running for State Representative because the 9th House District has been victim to disinvestment, school closings, violence, and although local government can drastically affect it, these issues and this community deserves a champion at the state level. In the 9th district, disinvestment has occurred at the state level, where although most black men incarcerated for marijuana in the city live in the district, there are no black owned marijuana dispensaries since the state made it legal. Gun sales in other states, and parts of Illinois make their way to Chicago and aid in the cycle of violence we see in parts of the district. This is power that the state has to address and I am excited to be able to do so as a legislator.

If you were currently in office, how would you use your office to address the economic harm from COVID-19 in your community?

Although I was not in office, I used my platform, volunteers and campaign resources to push for HB 5574 which would have created a 180-day moratorium on eviction and foreclosure proceedings and would require landlords to offer “a reasonable repayment plan” and state-regulated mortgage lenders to offer flexible forbearance programs. It would have added protections for tenants against late fees, eviction without cause, illegal lockouts and retaliation. In order to combat the housing issues that so many residents face and will continue to face until the virus is gone and jobs that were lost return. Although this bill did not ultimately pass, a rental fund was created at the state and now as an appointed official I am working closely with the state and the district to make sure residents receive those funds. If I had been in office during the start of the pandemic I would have proposed many more bills similar to HB 5574.

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

The greatest challenges to creating a more racially just legal and political system are the historical inequities that we have experienced here in America. Even if we have fair and equitable policies today that will put a dent in the problem but it will not address the fact that these problems have been compounded over generations. That will take time of continued equitable investment in order to correct.

Lakesia Collins and Counting On Chicago Coalition for the 2020 Census
Lakesia Collins and Counting On Chicago Coalition for the 2020 Census

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

I believe that meaningful housing policy, through lifting the ban on rent control, as well as resources for violence prevention would drastically change the life of women in my district.

In regards to housing, we know that rent costs dramatically affect single and working mothers. If counties and cities can decide for themselves what good rent control looks like for them in their communities, that will give immediate relief to these families that are struggling during this pandemic. That is why lifting the ban on rent control in Illinois will give them that option. We can’t keep tools locked away in the tool box when trying to fix a problem.

In regards to violence prevention, we know that throwing more jail time or police doesn’t ultimately solve and cure crime. It is only when we address the root causes, poverty, that we address crime and make communities safer. That’s why I believe providing drastic resources towards violence prevention & education will give citizens more options and support so that crime is not a viable option.

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

The need of money for women of color as well as the lack of sources for progressive women of color. Raising money is incredibly hard and necessary for all candidates running for office. However, women of color, due to historical inequities do not have the same expendable cash or access to networks that have money, which makes running for office a barrier. Knowing what I know now, I plan to make it easier to run a campaign without large sums of money and also working to ensure that other black women who want to run for office can use me as a resource to be able to get their foot in the door and run.

Closing comments

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I hope that people continue to fight for what they believe in their community. I won’t stop fighting and neither should you. I hope that you vote for me so that I can take on the fight for the 9th District.

If you would like to learn more about Lakesia Collins and her platform or volunteer for her campaign, please check out her website at Don’t forget to follow her on social media on Facebook at @LakesiaForStateRep and on Instagram at @lakesia4the9th. 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 focuses on making sure the political system in Illinois reflects the voices of all women and femmes in Illinois.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
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.