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Elmhurst College Librarian Headed to State Legislature

Newly elected Illinois Democratic Rep. Kathleen Willis says she will focus on education issues and the state budget crisis.

When Kathleen Willis gets to Springfield in January, her priorities will be to protect funding for education and provide relief for homeowners facing foreclosure, while at the same time being prepared to make the hard decisions needed to address the state’s budget crisis.

The coordinator of access services at Elmhurst College’s library and an alumna of the college, Willis was elected to the Illinois General Assembly on Nov. 6 to represent the state’s 77th legislative district. The district covers parts of western Cook and eastern DuPage counties, including several communities that border O’Hare International Airport. A Democrat and lifelong DuPage County resident, Willis defeated longtime Republican state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano of Elmwood Park. 

During her campaign, Willis heard from many residents who are worried about losing their homes to foreclosure. Willis hopes to get homeowners some relief, and to seek more transparency from banks regarding lending practices and ways for homeowners to avoid foreclosure.

One of Willis’ campaign promises was to avoid contributing personally to the state’s budget problems. So she won’t be signing up for the state pension plan. “There’s a lot of concern about the pension system and I believe pension reform needs to start at home,” she says.

“All of us are concerned about how to fix a state budget that’s been out of control for decades,” she adds. “We realize it needs to be fixed, but that it’s not going to be an easy fix. We need to make hard choices.”

A resident of Addison for 40 years, Willis long has been interested in education issues, starting from when her children, now grown, first started attending school. She is serving her third term on the Addison Elementary District 4 School Board. As a member of the American Association of University Women, she has been one of the organizers of the annual Dare to Dream program, held at Elmhurst College. Dare to Dream mentors Hispanic middle school and high school girls and their mothers, and promotes the benefits of staying in school and pursuing higher education.

In Springfield, Willis will seek assignments to education-related committees.

“I want to make sure no aspect of education gets more cuts,” she says. “Education is where my knowledge about governing comes from, and that’s where my passion is too.”

Willis has worked for Elmhurst College since 1994. Besides her role as access services coordinator at the A.C. Buehler Library, she teaches children’s and youth literature at the college. She received a bachelor’s degree in human service administration from Elmhurst in 2000 and a master’s degree in library and information services from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As a full time legislator, Willis will leave the college in January. Her inauguration to the legislature will be on Jan. 9.

“I’m really looking forward to impacting the community at a higher level,” she says. “This is my chance to take my grassroots experience and make even more of a difference.”

Source: Elmhurst College

NancyC December 06, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Education does not need more money the evidence is clear on this. The "system" is a money pit churned by the teachers union, a public employees outfit, and will grow ever deeper and wider no matter how much cash it is fed. We need to operate on shoe-string budgets instead of caviar dreams.
Independence666 December 07, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Just what we need, another left wing liberal in our state government. It's exasperating!
Jim Court December 08, 2012 at 12:46 PM
I hope she succeeds.
Carol B Davis December 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Kathleen does so much to help everyday people. I am sure we will be well represented by her. Good public education has made this nation the greatest nation on earth by developing the potential of all and creating a strong middle class. She has a great challeng ahead of her. Let us support her in meeting that challenge! It will be for all of us.
Independence666 December 09, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Actually, public education is one of the biggest problems we have in this country (we still have kids, graduating from high school, who can't fill out a job application). It is controlled by a bunch of self serving union "teachers" and their left wing friends in government. The system needs a major overhaul, and I don't believe another person from the liberal left will help to do that.
Dave December 10, 2012 at 03:43 AM
If you like the way Michael Madigan has driven Illinois to financial ruin, I am sure you will like Ms. Willis. Her Republican opponent, incumbent Skip Saviano, actually had a good working relationship with Madigan for years -- to the point where Madigan gave Saviano a committee chairmanship. Then Saviano made the mistake of criticizing Madigan's step-daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, so for revenge Madigan poured a ton of money into this race to defeat Saviano. Anyone who thinks Ms. Willis will be anything other than a puppet for Michael Madigan is in for a rude awakening.
Jim Court December 10, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Sadly, People seem to be placed into positions to protect the self-interest of these political power brokers. Lisa Madigan and the woman in this article strike me as essentially decent woman who end up not upsetting the hand that feeds them. The same for Chicagos Anita Alverez ( I may have this name spelled wrong and I am not sure if I have the first name right). There is a long history of bullies getting into positions and creating a wall that protects them. Isn't this the way the Mafia and drug lords work? Midwest conservatism and deference to authority and refusal to challenge the status quo allow this to continue unchallenged. Look at the disqualified Judges in Chicago who were re-elected.

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