Rep. Ann Williams Discusses Voting, Values, and the Upcoming Legislative Session with Joan Esposito

On September 6, 2022, Representative Ann Williams joined Joan Esposito’s radio show Live, Local, & Progressive to discuss some of the biggest issues facing Illinois this year. 

Joan Esposito began by acknowledging the possibility of an increasingly Democratic majority in both the House, as well as the Senate. She attributed this to the peoples’ continued urgency to expand abortion access.  

“Abortion will be on the ballot come November. Abortion will be all over the ballot- from governors, to senators, to school board members. I think we will see a lot of interesting results from the Dobbs decision.”

Esposito then mentioned the swiftness at which Republicans have moved to revoke rights to abortion- as well as other reproductive rights- including IVF treatment and contraceptive care. 

“We have fictional stories about this dystopian world. It is becoming reality across several states. There was a poll done among Democrats and they polled 25 points higher in terms of how much they care about abortion. In short, 25% of Democrats have now made abortion their primary political issue, motivating them to get to the polls.”

Shifting focus to Illinois politics, Esposito examines Darren Bailey, his funding issues, and his religious platform. 

“Making your platform and centering your campaign around your personal faith is not where we are in 2022 Illinois, or hopefully elsewhere. Basing decisions on women’s bodies and on our children’s education on personal religious beliefs is out of touch.” 

But Williams also recognizes that the Far-Right is effective at organizing and communicating dangerous messages on all levels of government. “There is a training program for educators sponsored by “Awake” that advocates against critical race theory, pushes for the banning of books, etc. These fringe groups are organizing, and we need to do the same.”

As far as Democratic organizing groups, Williams commends several Illinoisan groups that have effectively enacted change on all levels of government. “There are a few that are doing great work with “building the bench”. Specifically, the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership is really focused on training women Democrats to run on all levels of government and several alumni graduate from the program and become elected officials. There is another organization, The Black Bench, that works to get Black members into office at all levels. We are starting to wake up and work at every level of government.”

Esposito and Rep. Williams then discussed Williams’s role on the ‘Dobbs Decision Working Group’ and the various legislation that will be relevant at the next special session.

“Here in Illinois, we have taken strong steps to protect safe and legal access to abortion, as well as preserving other reproductive health rights. We have also taken steps to ensure that healthcare providers are protected. Access is a huge topic of discussion. Where can we fill in the gaps and the loopholes that have resulted in gun violence? We have a lot to discuss, it is just about narrowing down issues and making sure we look at what is most important and address it as soon as possible.”

Esposito and Rep. Williams wrapped up with some quick thoughts on voting issues.

“My voters consistently hold dear the right to safe and legal abortion, equal rights for all, advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, environmental issues, and of course education and schools. I have heard more and more about crime rates, repeat offenders, and keeping people safe in the community. Are we allocating resources to the disenfranchised, are we advocating for mental health resources?”

You can listen to the full recording HERE.

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