My name is Marta Perales and I am standing for the appointment of State Senator of the 40th District. I am the most qualified for this position because of my experience in Springfield doing the very things that members of the General Assembly do and rely upon; provide the analysis of legislation, draft bills, provide support to substantive committees and work with other actors in the legislative process. All of this was in the name of creating good public policy and fighting for regional equity.
I grew up in the South Suburbs and I have the distinction of living in both boundaries of the District, from downtown Flossmoor to downtown Momence, which provides a unique perspective of the needs of both areas.
The City of Momence is a border town surrounded by the Kankakee River. For the last six years I have lived one block away from that River and come to appreciate its majestic beauty. Needless to say, I will work to protect the Kankakee River which is near and dear to my heart.
We must be concerned about the need for water in Kankakee County. Projects have not come here because of access to water. Aqua cannot guarantee to meet new business demands. Aqua has also impacted University Park and residents there continue to take precautionary measures for safe drinking water. The ability of firms like Aqua and others to operate with impunity emanated to an extent from state legislation. It is through effective legislative oversight that these firms can end these unfair and unsafe practices.
Beyond clean water, our residents deserve better transportation.
The county is growing and the next project in Kankakee has to be the interchange on Court Street. It is deplorable that the under-construction sign has stood there so long that is nearly faded half-way through.
As we travel north, we have new proposed Eagle Lake interchange. As well, it appears with this Governor – the South Suburban Airport will be built. We know these projects are critical for giving people the opportunity to move around easily and bring more jobs to this area. The new Stuenkel Road interchange has expanded manufacturing and helped to bring Amazon to the Southland.
That’s what I am fighting for. I am also fighting with safer roads for our regional commuters as they travel from Kankakee to Joliet through Manhattan. Matteson to Bradley and Beecher to Chicago Heights. Unfortunately, there has been too many unnecessary accidents, some that have claimed lives.
While on the House Floor in 2007, a state representative expressed their frustration with IDOT and the Tollway Authority because it had not moved from Phase I to Phase II, and asked if I could help. As a staffer in the Comprehensive Regional Planning House Committee, the planning phase of any project is crucial. Needless to say, monies that were hidden were found, a light was shone on the project, progress was made which continues to this day. Nationally, state, local and federal transportation infrastructure accounts for almost 450 Billion in spending. This means jobs, safe roads and bridges and the effective flow of commerce. As a State Senator, I look forward to getting on the Transportation committee and continue fighting for our communities.
We must be mindful in other areas where investments are not being made and fatal truck accidents in rural areas have occurred.
Transit helps lift people up. Transit gives them more opportunities.
Some of those opportunities are with good paying, union jobs. As a consultant, I have worked with Southland Friends of Labor and the Kankakee Dems the last three years helping fundraise to support labor friendly candidates.
I am proud of my work with Labor because it is part of a larger mission to educate the public and local residents about the impact of labor in their communities. We must invest in our workforce, and bring back the trades in high school.
I will use my experience to ensure that the much-needed economic development and job creation does not displace residents.
We have to strengthen the 40th district and secure equitable treatment of our region. The most effective candidate should be able to start the ground running having worked for both the House and Senate, I am the only person with those relationships, and that experience.
In 1996, I worked in the State Capitol at the Senate GOP Leadership office for one session.
I would return to the Capitol as a research and appropriations analyst in the Illinois House, staffing infrastructure related committees whose legislation are important to this district, such as mass transit policy. It does not matter where you live in the 40th District, mass transit is scarce, and holding us back
I also helped draft legislation that codified the creation of the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency For Planning.
During mass transit reform, I helped ensure everyone had a seat at the table including the Illinois Black Caucus, the Illinois Latino Caucus and Amalgamated Transit Union.
After leaving the House, I began working with State Representative Al Riley advocating for equitable resources to the Southland. I was involved in policy development and helped him craft landmark accountability and transparency legislation which put oversight on the RTA, CTA, Pace and Metra after the egregious $750,000 buyout of the Metra CEO.
As the statewide coordinator for the Illinois MPO Advisory Council, I worked with 14 MPOs throughout the state to provide a forum for sharing best practices across regional lines.
My professional experience also includes working as a legislative affairs administrator for Metra and as a transit campaign organizer for the Illinois Jobs to Move America Coalition, uniting labor unions with environmental organizations to push for manufacturing jobs in the Chicago region. In closing, I want to continue advocating for good public policy in Springfield, fighting for the needs of the District, and maintaining the viability and beauty of the Kankakee River, and fighting against the people, policies and forces that want to hold our region back.