She Runs Illinois 2022! — Rachel Ventura, candidate for IL Senate, District 43
She Votes Illinois is pleased to feature Rachel Ventura, candidate, running for IL State Senate, District 43. 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.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, alongside my three siblings. With two working-class parents, I grew up understanding the power of hard work and the value of unions. I proudly attended public school and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Benedictine University. Armed with a degree and a desire to see more of this great country, I moved to California where I began work as an actuary for health insurance companies. Here I saw firsthand how the American healthcare system had been warped to profit off the sick.
Disgusted by the injustices of the industry, I left the healthcare field and spent the next 10 years as a military spouse. While living in Virginia, I earned a second degree in biology and started work as a veterinary assistant. In Georgia, I became a naturalist for Georgia State Parks. Shortly after my twin girls were born, the family moved to Washington State. There, I volunteered for numerous non-profit organizations, many of which focused on protecting the environment and providing access to healthy foods. I also worked as a substitute teacher.
I later returned to Joliet with my daughters as a single mother working as the business director for an international gaming company, Legendary Games. In my free time, I volunteer for Joliet School District 86, Girl Scouts, Educarious, and am an active thespian at Will County Bicentennial Park. It was here in my hometown that I realized I wanted to do more to help my community.
I ran for county board in 2018 and won. I am also the Vice President of the Forest Preserve and serve on the Nature Foundation and the Heritage Corridor Board for Tourism.
What are the priorities that you intend to focus on in office?
I’m running for IL State Senate in the 43rd district because I believe that our government and our economy should work for everyone. This means making sure we have living wage jobs for everyone. This means addressing the climate crisis and investing in policies to move away from fossil fuels. This means reforming how we fund education. We need an adequate and equitable funding formula at the state level for schools to relieve high property taxes and create more opportunities for every child in Illinois. I want to see public, high-speed broadband internet access! Illinois should move towards offering a public broadband option that can compete with the private sector. Lastly, returning democracy to the people by continuing to expand voting rights and adopting rank choice voicing at the ballot box, and creating a public election fund to level the playing people for grassroots candidates.
What led you into politics and to run for office?
The climate crisis and political environment in 2016 are the issues that drove me but it was the encouragement from my father to run for office that got me into politics.
As states surrounding us and across the country further restrict abortion access, what more do you think needs to be done here in Illinois to further protect patients in and out-of-state and abortion providers?
We need to codify the right to choose and reproductive health into the constitution.
Anti-LGBTQ legislation has become an agenda in states across the nation. What policies do you think are necessary to help ensure individuals are able to live full, safe, and happy lives?
Protecting the laws that have been enacted in our state is the first priority (including marriage freedom, pronouns on our IDs, right to privacy, and more). Secondly, working with Equality Illinois and other advocacy groups to make sure we are addressing the needs of the community is important to me and I will always have an open door.
Toxic masculinity, the cultural idea that manhood is defined by violence and aggression to maintain power or strength, combined with gun availability can result in gender-based gun violence and mass shootings. What can the ILGA do to address this deadly combination?
Creating a licensing process for gun ownership which would include education, law review, mental health screening, and more, is definitely some of the first steps toward responsible gun ownership and common-sense gun laws.
I live in a very diverse community. I’ve been a political activist and politician here since 2016. My “superpower” is walking doors and listening to people, and therefore, I’m very well known in the community. I currently serve on the Will County Board, representing the 9th District, where I helped secure long-term clean water for 800 families living in Fairmont, spearheaded the hiring of a vaccine equity manager, chair the Public Health and Safety committee, and pushed for new green infrastructure projects like the large scale greenhouse gas capture project that converts Will County landfill methane gas to usable gas for heating homes or transportation. People are always most interested in the things that immediately impact their lives. We know that the republicans will be using people’s emotions to drive them to the polls, especially on social issues like CRT, abortion, sex ed bill, Covid mandates, and more. We need to make sure we are pulling the attention away from those fear-based messages and address the concerns of people’s kitchen table issues. Jobs, education, healthcare, and climate will be the central theme of my campaign. These are immediate needs most families have today and need to have reassurance that their elected officials are going to defend their needs. I’ve been a staunch fighter and have proven that I will go against the grain to defend the needs of my constituents. We plan to make sure voters know I will address their concerns head-on and fight for them.
If you would like to learn more about Rachel Ventura and her platform or volunteer for her campaign, please check out her website at rachelfventura.com. Don’t forget to follow her on social media at @electventura. 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.)