She Runs Illinois 2022! — Laura Ellman, candidate for IL Senate, District 21

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She Votes Illinois is pleased to feature Laura Ellman, incumbent, running for IL Senate, District 21. Follow our series, She Runs Illinois 2022!, leading up to election day as we showcase and uplift the voices of Illinois women running for public office in the upcoming election, November 8, 2022.

Laura Ellman, incumbent, IL State Senate, District 21
Laura Ellman, incumbent, IL State Senate, District 21

Tell us about yourself

I have deep ties to the 21st District and want to put my problem-solving skills in the private sector to work to move Illinois forward. I grew up nearby, in Hanover Park, and graduated from Elgin High School. I’ve worked all over the district in Lisle, Warrenville, Wheaton, and Naperville. Raised in a working-class household in Hanover Park and Bartlett, I grew up believing that education and hard work were part of the American Dream. I have more than 25 years of experience working in manufacturing and engineering and dealing with regulations and policies and am also dedicated to helping our community through my work on the Naperville Fair Housing Commission, Toastmasters, and as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Feed My Starving Children, and as an ESL tutor.

In my personal life, I love sports — I’ve been playing basketball every week for over twenty years, and my daughter and I take our tent and bike for a long overnight bike ride every October. I also enjoy traveling all over America with my family in our pop-up camper.

What are the priorities that you intend to focus on in office?

My family taught me the value of hard work, being useful, and making the world a better place. It’s time we had legislators who shared those values. I’ve been fixing things since I was a child, and I plan to continue fixing things and helping others if re-elected to serve a second term as state senator for the 21st District.

We’ve made great progress, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure Illinois is a safe, prosperous state where everyone has an equal opportunity to a promising future. Among my policy priorities, I’m focused on:

  • Climate Policy — I will fight to protect our land, water, air, and the future of our state. From local forest preserves and the DuPage river to Lake Michigan, our beautiful conservation areas are part of what makes living in Illinois great, and I’m committed to addressing climate change and working together to make our state 100% powered by clean energy by 2050.
  • Gun Violence & School Safety — As a mom of two, I have been heartbroken by the endless school shootings and incidents of gun violence plaguing our communities. We can do more to protect our loved ones. Illinois has relatively strong gun laws, but according to Everytown for Gun Safety, Gun violence costs Illinois $18.6 billion each year — we can do more to keep illegal guns out of our communities. I support the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking bill, longer waiting periods, responsible gun ownership, and other common-sense measures to help ensure our children and loved ones are safe at school and anywhere else they go in Illinois.

How have you involved residents in your decision-making process? How do you plan to involve more people in the future?

The work I am most proud of is the work I have done in direct collaboration with the people who call District 21 home. In fact, some of the biggest pieces of legislation I have championed came from my constituents, such as SB1854, a bill that ensures coverage for A1C diabetes screening, and also Alex’s Law, a bill that literally saves lives by expanding safeguards for getting help when someone is overdosing. I’m working on additional bills right now in collaboration with constituents because I believe the people with the greatest proximity to the challenges are also the people best equipped to help solve them!

IL Senator Laura Ellman speaking to a family at a playground.

The crisis of domestic violence is closely linked to the widespread and growing use of guns by abusers. What solutions do you advocate to reduce gender-based gun violence in Illinois?

The data on gun ownership, use, and victimhood show a clear gender disparity. Men are more likely to own guns, use guns, and commit violence against themselves and others with guns. Women are too often caught in the crosshairs. We are fortunate to have some of the strongest gun laws in the country, including a law requiring background checks on all gun sales, an Extreme Risk law, and laws keeping guns away from domestic abusers have all helped to reduce gender-based gun violence, we must continue to test new approaches and policy initiatives to continue this work.

IL Senator Laura Ellman standing (front row left wearing a peach colored long sleeve shirt and black pants) in solidarity with teachers and students for gun safety.

Racially motivated violence against Asian Americans is a longstanding issue in the U.S., but incidents have been on the rise. How will you plan to understand impacted communities’ fears and needs in order to work towards ensuring their safety?

As an incumbent State Senator who represents a district with a growing number of Asian Americans and a very strong interfaith community, I have a unique opportunity to engage with this constituency and the community-based organizations taking on the dual challenges of seeking equal representation while also combating hate and discrimination. If re-elected, I will continue to work with our strong interfaith community to respond, I will also continue to meet my constituents, listen to their ideas, and work with the organizations on the ground to implement their policy ideas and initiatives.

Senator Laura Ellman (center — wearing lilac colored shirt) speaking outside in front of a house to a family in her district.

Should we enshrine the right to an abortion in our state constitution as other states have done?

The repercussions of the far-right Supreme Court’s choice to overturn Roe v. Wade are already being felt in our community, and they will continue to have far-reaching consequences for people who give birth in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. In Illinois, we have already done much to enshrine abortion as a fundamental right, particularly with the 2019 passage of the Reproductive Healthcare Act which codified a women’s right to choose and also established that a fertilized egg/embryo/fetus does not have personhood rights.

Keeping abortion safe for those seeking it (especially from our bordering states where far-right legislators are further restricting access to healthcare) is paramount right now. I do believe that the right to an abortion should be set in stone in our state constitution, but I also believe this is a multi-year endeavor. We must establish a broad and deep coalition and lay the necessary groundwork that would ensure the statewide referendum needed for such a change could stand up to the billion-dollar misinformation machine that would descend on our state, and meanwhile, we need to continue to ensure those who need access to abortion have it, and that the critical institutions who provide this care are also protected and have the funding they need to handle the influx of people headed to Illinois.

Constitutional amendments are big — and it will take a lot of work… we need to build a broad coalition to pass it.

Senator Laura Ellman door knocking in her district.

Closing comments

I want to continue the work I started during my first term — bringing honesty and transparency back to Springfield and fighting for an Illinois where every person has the opportunity to build a promising future. Our district deserves a voice that will speak out for working families. As a wife and a working mother of two, and a cancer survivor, I have been a strong voice for middle-class families in our community, and that’s what I’ll continue doing if re-elected. I am committed to serving our district with a new perspective, one that reflects our values and highlights the strengths and unity of our vibrant communities.

If you would like to learn more about Laura Ellman and her platform or volunteer for her campaign, please check out her website at ellmanforillinois.com. Don’t forget to follow her on social media at @EllmanForIL. Reach out today and help make a difference in the upcoming 2022 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.