Kelly Cassidy is a Democratic State Representative from Chicago representing the 14th district, on Chicago’s north side. She is running unopposed, the first time since she was sworn into the seat in 2011. 

 

Cassidy has been an avid advocate for women and the LGBTQ+ community, worked in the state’s attorney’s office and has diligently toiled for the last two decades to make government more accessible, efficient and effective. Cassidy has been endorsed by publications like the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, as well as groups like EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood.

 

#Boom recently interviewed Cassidy as part of our "OUT on the Trail" series profiling Missouri and Illinois’ LGBTQ+ candidates in 2018.

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Tell us about your district; where is it, what does it include?

 

I represent the 14th district, which includes the Chicago neighborhoods of Andersonville, Edgewater and Rogers Park as well as a small piece of Evanston. 

 

What are the most important issues that you have seen or heard from your district that are your priority?

 

The issues I hear most about include public safety, the disintegrating social service safety net, the needs of our public schools, safety for our immigrant communities, reproductive rights and equality.

 

A smart politician once said there are only two ways to run a race: run scared or run unopposed. You're doing the latter. What's the campaign trail look like?

 

I have spent a lot of time helping other candidates since I don’t have a Republican opponent this cycle. This is actually my first general election without an opponent. It’s been fun getting to spend time learning about what’s happening in other areas.

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A lot of our readers find coming out stories to be particularly empowering. Would you mind sharing yours?

 

I dated the same boy all through high school. When I graduated and talked about moving away, he proposed. Thinking that’s what I was supposed to do, I said yes, but it never felt right. I didn’t even like any of the rings we looked at. I moved away and lived with an older sister in a larger town, kissed a girl and figured out why I didn’t marry that boy. As it turns out, that boy is now happily married to the boy of his dreams.

 

Let’s talk about some issues of importance to our readers. These are in no particular order. Student loan debt?

 

This is quite honestly a game changer. We have to address the cost of higher education in a way that levels the playing field. When I first started working in the State’s Attorney’s Office, I remember being stunned at the idea that there were hundreds of applicants for every entry level attorney position with a starting pay of about $50,000. I was stunned by how many of the applicants were prepared to work two or three jobs in order to handle the stunning debt of student loans.

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Healthcare in Illinois?

 

We need a public option for our residents. Healthcare is out of reach for too many.

 

Increase the minimum wage to a living wage?

 

We’ve made some progress, but not enough. Yet, we continue to provide subsidies for corporations without regard for whether the jobs they create are good jobs with decent pay and a career path

 

Despite the political climate that we are currently in, what are the biggest areas of agreement that you and your opposing party can achieve?

 

We have seen significant opportunities for cooperation in the area of criminal justice reform. I’ve been working for the last 3 years towards an adult use cannabis legalization bill. Each of the incremental bills in this process has drawn even more bipartisan support and I anticipate that when we introduce the full legalization bill, we will have even more significant bipartisan support.

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Illinois is one of a handful of states where it is illegal to discriminate against gender identity. With all that's going on nationally, what would you say to those Illinoisans who identify as transgender?

 

Given the actions of the Trump administration and the very real threats of violence transgender folks face every day, it’s hard to find the right words to express my love and concern. We can’t rest until the murders of trans women of color are given the respect and attention they deserve and warrant so that offenders are brought to justice. 

 

At some level it’s as simple as: know that I see you, I care and I won’t abandon you. I hope that someday very soon, I get to serve with the first transgender member of the Illinois General Assembly. Until then, I’ve got your back and will fight to not just protect the rights we have won, but work tirelessly to secure not just the rights but respect you deserve.

 

"OUT on the Trail" is an ongoing series of profiles on out LGBTQ candidates in 2018. Check out our interviews with Kathy EllisTom HanneganMitch WeberIan MackeyPatrice BillingsGreg Razer , Ryan DillonMaggie TrevorGreg HarrisKelly Cassidy and Lamont Robinson.  

 

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