Graciela Guzmán for District 20

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Graciela's Core Values

Proven progressive Graciela Guzmán is an organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union and longtime community leader. After her parents lost their home and her undocumented grandfather passed away without healthcare, Graciela dedicated her life to fighting for workers’ rights, immigrant justice, and access to healthcare.

The daughter of refugees and the first in her family to go to college, Graciela has drawn on her own personal experiences to inform her leadership of successful advocacy efforts on healthcare, child welfare, immigration, and public education. As State Senator, her policy-making will be animated by the following core values:

  • Co-governance and ensuring that those closest to the pain are closest to the power. Graciela knows what it’s like to be excluded from policy conversations that directly impact your life. Her policy-making will always center those most directly impacted by the issue.
  • Racial, economic, and gender justice. As someone who has experienced economic hardship firsthand, Graciela will fight relentlessly for justice.
  • The role of government as a force for good in our lives. The wealthiest 1% have systematically defunded schools and public services for decades to increase their profits and decrease regulation. Graciela believes that the public sector has a vital role to play in ensuring that we all can thrive.

Graciela's Mission

  • When Graciela was just 5 years old, she lost her grandfather to cancer. He was undocumented and died without access to the healthcare that could have saved his life. This is the experience that changed the trajectory of Graciela’s life–including going on to lead the Healthy Illinois campaign that expanded Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income Illinois seniors.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will …

    • Fight towards single-payer healthcare for the state as a pathway towards universal coverage, and a better healthcare system for all that is motivated by the health, safety, and welfare of our community.
    • Support programs like healthcare navigators, which drive resources to under-served communities to facilitate healthcare enrollment, and making key improvements to Illinois’ successful implementation of a state-based insurance exchange.
    • Require Illinois hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities to comply with required staff-to-patient ratios that improve patient safety and reduce the risk of injury to nurses and other healthcare workers.
  • The daughter of a mother who had to leave school in the fifth grade, Graciela is the first in her family to finish high school and college. She is the proud product of public schools and had to work multiple jobs in college to pay her tuition. Graciela is the ONLY candidate in this race who has been endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union for her track record of fighting for the sustainable community schools we deserve.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will …

    • Fight for fully-funded neighborhood schools that serve all students and supporting all school workers, including teachers, librarians, special education aides and support staff, parent mentors, nurses, and social workers.
    • Fully fund our state colleges and university systems, including increased adult education programming, and creating a path towards free community college for all.
    • Promote democracy in public education, including fair maps for Chicago’s new elected school board, an elected board for City Colleges of Chicago, and a curriculum that honors the true history of Black, indigenous, and immigrant communities in the United States.
  • Graciela knows firsthand how unions and strong worker protections make a difference in people’s lives: her mother experienced frequent wage theft while cleaning homes as an undocumented worker, and her father worked his way up the ranks of a union shipping company only to be laid off in a corporate merger. As a union organizer, Graciela will always be on the side of working families.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will …

    • Fight for progressive revenue solutions to reverse generations of regressive tax policy, including a graduated income tax and a permanent expansion of the Earned Income and Child Tax credit that put hundreds of dollars back into the pockets of poor- and working-class Illinoisans.
    • Defend our right to work with dignity and retire with security, including fully funding workers’ hard-earned pensions and eliminating subminimum wages for tipped workers and people with disabilities.
    • Protect workers from exploitation by expanding the state Department of Labor, providing workers with tools to fight wage theft, and expanding public benefits like TANF and All Kids which make workers less dependent on their bosses for basic services.
  • Graciela is 100% pro-choice. As a leader of the Chicago Women’s March in 2016, she has a proud track record of fighting back against Republican attacks on our bodies, and she will always fight to make sure that Illinois is a safe haven for those seeking reproductive and gender-affirming care.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will …

    • Fiercely defend the right to abortion, keeping Illinois a safe haven for patients, physicians, and families and opposing any legislation that attempts to restrict our reproductive rights.
    • Champion access to the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare, including combating postpartum mortality, improving access to contraceptives and telemedical reproductive health services, and protecting funding for family planning and sexual health education in community-based settings.
    • Protect and expand access to gender-affirming care. Graciela will increase efforts to spread the word that Illinois is a safe place for reproductive and gender justice, and that we welcome all who wish to live free from persecution and harassment.
  • Graciela knows what it’s like to struggle with the cost of housing: her parents lost their home in the 2008 foreclosure crisis, and she was displaced from Albany Park ten years ago when her landlord raised her rent by $300 per month. In Springfield, she’ll fight tirelessly to bring an end to the vicious cycles of displacement, gentrification, eviction, foreclosure, and homelessness.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will work to …

    • Lift the ban on rent control by passing legislation that would give the municipalities the ability to protect their tenants and preserve their affordable housing stock.
    • Fully fund service providers across Chicago and Illinois who provide permanent supportive housing, emergency and transitional services for youth and adults, and long-term support to prevent homelessness before it begins.
    • Combat gentrification and preserve the cultural identity of our neighborhoods through supporting small businesses, grassroots civic engagement, and initiatives such as the Here to Stay Community Land Trust, which provides affordable homeownership opportunities to long-term residents.
  • Graciela’s experience on the frontline for healthcare justice has exposed her to the increasing perils of environmental injustice and global warming–from the rise in childhood asthma to health problems and even death from extreme heat events. She will fight tirelessly to ensure that Illinois leads the way in climate resilience and a just transition.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will work to …

    • Create green union jobs with the unprecedented influx of federal dollars from the federal Inflation Reduction Act, with a focus on workforce development and job creation for communities directly impacted by generations of disinvestment.
    • Enact Clean Vehicle Standards that dramatically reduce the air pollution burden borne by Black and immigrant environmental justice communities and force giant corporations like Amazon to do more for the health and wellness of our communities.
    • Make Illinois and Chicago a leader in decarbonization and climate resilience with generational investments in public transportation, green social housing, green new schools, and community energy independence and wealth-building.
  • Graciela believes that in one of the richest cities in the world, not only should families not be sleeping in police stations–but there should be enough for all of us. Her commitment to supporting long-term residents and new arrivals stems from her parents’ experience fleeing war-torn El Salvador, petitioning for refugee status, and experiencing many of the same challenges faced by long-term residents, including wage theft, poverty, and predatory housing practices. In a world in which there are open borders for the rich and walls for the poor, Graciela will work to build bridges and expand thriving for all of us.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will …

    • Push the federal government to resource a humane migrant response system. Currently, Chicago is struggling under the weight of a housing crisis that is being exacerbated by the influx of migrants to our city–while Republicans in Congress dodge responsibility for a crisis of their own making–specifically, sanctions that have created horrific levels of poverty in Venezuela. Graciela will fight to make sure that we receive federal resources to address this crisis, and that state resources with be increased and directed to the city.
    • Build bridges with long-term residents who need more from the public sector. In one of the richest cities of the world, migrant healthcare, housing, and education should not and does not need to come at the expense of long-term residents who have needed better healthcare, housing, and schools for generations. Graciela will build bridges with long-term residents to expand the public sector so all of us can thrive.
    • Support those who uphold our best values and highest selves. As the founder of a mutual aid network that has served thousands of local families, Graciela will do everything she can to encourage and support the faith leaders, community members, and service providers who are digging deep to help the least of these and combat xenophobia.
  • For Graciela, public safety is personal. Like too many other Chicagoans, she has survived domestic violence and personally experienced racial profiling by the police. Graciela will make us safer by actually investing in addressing the root causes of violence.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will work to …

    • Increase funding for proven strategies to increase community safety, including community violence intervention, youth employment, and providing formerly incarcerated people with the housing and employment opportunities they need to safely and successfully transition back to their former neighborhoods.
    • Invest in real mental healthcare as violence prevention, such as funding and expanding the Community Emergency Services and Support Act, to follow the lead of Chicago’s Treatment Not Trauma campaign and deploy mental health professionals, not armed police officers, in the event of a mental health emergency.
    • Fully and successfully implement the Safe-T Act, which ended money bond and brought much-needed reforms to police departments across Illinois in a critical first step to addressing the profound racial disparities within our criminal justice system.
    • Fight for the Decriminalization of Sex Work The criminalization of sex work makes sex workers more vulnerable to violence on the job and less likely to report violence. This criminalization also prevents sex workers from accessing healthcare and other critical services, funds an out of control mass incarceration system, and marginalizes folks struggling in poverty who have been pushed out of the formal economy and into sex work.
  • With vehicle and gas costs at historic highs, investing in public transportation is central to expanding working people’s access to jobs, education, and opportunities across all communities – with one study showing transit commuters in Chicago can save over $14,000 per year compared to drivers. Yet the CTA today is struggling to meet the demand and several rounds of service cuts risk permanently damaging our transit system. Graciela knows that the time is now for the State to prioritize investments in transit to ensure everyone has access to economic opportunity. Chicago has been one of the nation’s hubs for trains since 1848, and it’s time we double-down on that reputation as the backbone of public transportation in America for all of Illinois.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will …

    • Increase state funding in Chicagoland transit to reverse service cuts and expand beyond pre-pandemic service levels. The CTA desperately needs more funding to survive, and Illinois has a big role to play. Only 17% of funding for transit in the Chicago region comes from the State, compared to over 50% in Philadelphia. It’s time that we recognize how much transit brings to Chicago and to Illinois and save one of America’s best transportation systems.
    • Consolidate Pace, Metra, and CTA into one coordinated system to allow better planning and fare integration across operators. Why can’t you transfer for free from Metra onto a CTA bus or from CTA onto Pace? Better coordinating the way these agencies are run will allow for a single fare system across all operators and investments based on riders’ needs regardless of operator.
    • Redirect federal dollars away from highways toward transit statewide to improve access in all communities and reach Illinois’ climate goals. State agencies have the ability to transfer federal dollars from highway construction to transit but Illinois is lagging behind – New Jersey transferred over 7 times more of its federal funds toward transit than Illinois. If we really want to reduce carbon emissions without leaving anyone behind, we need to shift more dollars toward our transit systems.
    • Ensure that services for disabled passengers meet the same standards as those for abled passengers. The core of the fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act more than 33 years ago was around transportation, and we still have a discriminatory system today despite improvements over the last several decades. We must clean these systems up, demand equitable access, adapt to the times with apps and services, and enforce fair treatment for all.
  • More than one in five people have a disability of some kind. This can be anything from mobility or sensory disabilities to neurodiversity and mental trauma. Disabled people are often denied access, denied agency, and denied dignity and resources in our society. It is essential that, more than a third of a century after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by Congress, we make Illinois  a leader in accessibility for all. A democracy that is not accessible to all is not a true democracy.

    As your State Senator, Graciela will …

    • Make Illinois the first state in the country to fully enable disabled people to live in community, which means ending the institutional bias in healthcare, making expansion of affordable accessible housing our top housing public policy priority, strengthening supports and services for those in community, and systemically breaking down barriers to disabled people having accessibility, agency, and autonomy in Illinois.
    • Create an agency that will make the process for moving disabled people from institutions into community faster and easier, which will replace our current fractured and inadequate systems that have kept Illinois subject to three consent decrees for over a decade and kept disabled people trapped in nursing facilities, group homes, and CILAs rather than in community.
    • Ensure that disabled people have advocates and that agencies like the State Attorney General’s office have resources to enforce disability justice, which means the creation of jobs for disabled advocates to act as ombudsmen and ensuring that the state includes disability justice as a key priority in its civil and human rights enforcement.