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On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Carol Ammons announced her candidacy for the 103rd District of the Illinois House of Representatives. The seat has become open since Naomi Jakobsson announced her retirement. Ammons has a long track record as a local service provider and community organizer. She is co-founder of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. She has served on the Champaign County Board and is currently a member of the Urbana City Council. She recently resigned as Operations Manager of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.
Below is a speech she gave in front of the Lincoln statue in Carle Park in Urbana.
Good Afternoon. First, let me thank each of you, who decided to join us here today during your lunch break for this special time. I am Carol Ammons, and I want to be your next State Representative for the 103rd District. I have chosen this spot to formally announce my candidacy because we stand in the midst of Carle Park, the home of Taft’s “Lincoln the Lawyer” bronze statue. The statue inscription is what made this the perfect location for this important announcement and it reads:
“If there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people to never entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own liberties and institutions. It is not the qualified voter but the qualified voters who choose to vote that constitute the political power of the state.”
Lincoln’s instruction to us here speaks to the importance of not just being registered voters, but voters who cast their ballot to elect representatives who will speak to their needs and represent the interests of all of the people and that is my record and my commitment to the voters of the 103rd District. I picked this day because today it marks the start of the Affordable Care Act, an opportunity help millions of people – unemployed, seniors, veterans, and children in Illinois access health care.
In the midst of the 103rd District is the University of Illinois, our downstate anchor institution, for whom increased funding is needed, and access to affordable healthcare is a priority. We also have other needs to focus on providing more opportunities for employment, housing, early childhood education, and advocating for resources for health and human services funding in our district. If elected, you will be sending a representative to Springfield who has proven to be a strong advocate. Understanding that I will be 1 of 118 members, I also have a strong history of working with my colleagues, Democrats & Republicans to find solutions to problems that face all of the people, including the most vulnerable.
I want to be your next state representative to help solve many of the pressing problems facing our state. I have a long record of community service; working for social justice and change. As a young girl, I read about great leaders like Lincoln, Fredrick Douglass, Dr. King, Ida B. Wells, and Shirley Chisholm. All of these historical figures fought for people who were voiceless and invisible. I decided early on that I wanted to be the type of person who also fought for the voiceless and invisible.
As a county board member and a city council member, I’ve shown that addressing the most important concerns of the community as a whole and focusing on the unmet needs of people whose interests are too often ignored are not mutually exclusive; in fact, improving the lives of any segment of our population benefits everyone. Over the past 5 years, on the County Board and now on the Urbana City Council, I have worked to improve our criminal justice system, supported resolution for civil unions, nursing home, community farms, helped to establish Winds Farms in the county, improved the quality of rental housing, helped homeowners afford sewer repairs. I also, for the past ten years, have been working for social justice--work that has improved the lives of under-served members of our communities. I have run soup kitchens, volunteered at community non-profit organizations, collected school supplies for children in my community, and have continued to help meet the needs of thousands of citizens in the 103rd District. My commitment is “Serving the People, Then and Now.”
My decision to run is as a result of a joint effort. My family and friends have shown great confidence in me based on my ability to be prepared and to keep proper perspectives. I am the wife of Aaron Ammons, and mother of three wonderfully created children, Titianna, Jelani and Amir, who have taught me as much about life, as my formal education has provided. I have a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration that has helped me in my public and private service life. I have over 13 years of human services experience having worked with youth and families for the majority of that time. My professional and personal service has taught me empathy, respect, fairness, patience, responsibility and self-motivation.
I possess the experience, knowledge and ability to execute the fundamentals, yet creative enough to seek a solution other than the status quo. As your next State Representative, I ensure you that I will be accessible and available.
Issues that are important to me:
Education: To expand education as a vehicle for social mobility
• Reform education funding we need more funding for public education and the progressive income tax will make more money available for education
• More funding for K-12 education
• Expand access to higher education
• Reduce cost of student loans
Human Rights/Social Justice Issues: To fight for fairness, equality, diversity, and justice
• Protection of civil rights & civil liberties
• Reproductive choice
• Immigration reform
• Equal marriage rights for same sex couples
• Effective alternatives to mass incarceration with emphasis on non- violent offenders; the cost of the prison system is starving the needs of our public schools
Economic Reform: improving the economy & social contract
• Prioritize job creation we need to do more than bringing in low-wage jobs
• Living wage jobs – we are looking for ways to partner with private industry to bring about living wage jobs
• Secure public employees’ pensions – state government failed to pay their share, Oppose reducing the amount of public employees pensions; they’ve already paid their fair share: we have to think about pensions for the future, younger workers are going to have a new pension system. But we should not take away from those who have already earned their pension, and invested their time in the workforce. The legislature must ensure that the state doesn’t default.
• Progressive income tax – graduated income tax: the majority of states that have income tax are all graduated now, and Illinois should do that also. The answer to economic problems should not be on the backs of children and poor people, people with disabilities, and senior citizen.
• Affordable housing (especially for working poor with incomes below poverty level)
Health and Human Services
• Fight for the protection of women’s health care choices
• Improve Medicaid expansion
• Reduce Homelessness in our community
• Initiatives that improve social safety net programs
• Ensure fair voter representation
• New ballot reforms
• Protecting the right to vote
Shirley Chisholm, once said, “Service is the rent that you pay for a room on this earth and I promise to pay my rent and be “unbought and unbossed,” and she taught us.
Many people have lost faith in the American Dream, but I believe it can be reborn. This campaign seeks to re-inspire that dream and to make it more real today in the consciousness of all who desire a better life for all. We will not sacrifice our principles but we will stand ready to listen to others. We will foster open communication, trust and commitment to the rights of the citizens of our community. But we need your help.
Please, join us in our campaign to give the voiceless voice, to make the invisible and ignored visible and to empower the 99 percent. Please join my campaign to give voice to the 99 percent of people who are not in positions of power or wealth from the invisible and ignored to your next door neighbor . . . to you. I pledge that I will stand up for every citizen of the 103rd District’s rights and will fight for a state the provides a future for our families and most importantly our children. I swear before God that neither of these votes will expire. If you send me to the state house, you will see that I truly mean, that it’s time that all people of the 103rd matter in Springfield.
In closing, the words of Lincoln come back to mind, we he challenged his generation and now ours with these words, “Will not the good people respond to a united and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means so certainly or so speedily assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. Can any of us imagine better? Object whatsoever is possible, still the question recurs, can we do better? The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew….” I rise today, thinking anew and ready to act anew as your next State Representative of the 103rd District. Thank you.