Illinois action blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Candidate Spotlight: Kelly Cassidy for State Representative 14th District

Kelly Cassidy
Illinois House, 14th District (Incumbent)
Years served: May 2011 – Present

Rep. Kelly Cassidy is a rising star in the pro-choice community. Although Cassidy was appointed to the Illinois House just last year, she has already shown her leadership abilities when it comes to standing up for Illinois women. This year, Cassidy filed an amendment to an anti-choice bill that mandates ultrasound requirements prior to abortions. She has repeatedly spoken out against anti-choice bills with numerous news outlets including CBS and MSNBC. In addition, Cassidy is a co-sponsor of comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education legislation.

Rep. Cassidy is 100% pro-choice and he has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Illinois Action.

Issues: Women's Healthcare, Economic Development, Criminal Justice, Social Services, and Human Rights

Biography: As an organizer, a legislative director and a mom, Kelly Cassidy has spent the past 20 years living her values. Whether fighting for the rights of women and the LGBT community as an activist, working for a smarter criminal justice system within the state’s attorney’s office, or ensuring that her three boys have safe spaces to play in our community, she has devoted the last two decades to making government more accessible, efficient and effective.

Those experiences, both inside and outside the system, have afforded her great insight into how to be a better, more responsive and effective State Representative for the 14th district.

Cassidy’s first job in Chicago was as legislative director for the Chicago office of the National Organization for Women, which was an outstanding introduction to the inner-workings of government. Individuals often found the legislative process too confusing and legislators inaccessible. It was Cassidy’s job to empower women to advocate on their own behalf with legislators.

Highlights of her tenure included aiding in efforts to pass the Human Rights and Family and Medical Leave Acts, as well as defeating bill after bill attacking a woman’s right to choose. Locally, she worked to help pass the city and county human rights ordinances and fought to resume abortion services at County (now Stroger) Hospital.

She has often said that one of her most satisfying jobs was running Illinois Senator John Cullerton’s district office. As the constituent service lead, Cassidy knew at the end of the day someone had their problem solved because of her efforts. It also became clear how often constituent contacts drove a legislative agenda. Their input often led to the introduction of legislation, intervention with a state agency at the policy level and real change that affected far more people than those few that brought the problem to the office’s attention. Cassidy’s top goal as State Representative is to use the district office in the same manner — helping constituents address their needs, while also looking for ways to prevent problems from recurring.

Through the years, Cassidy has worked both as an advocate and as a professional on issues such as choice, equality, social justice, access to quality health care and child care.

Prior to her appointment as State Representative, Cassidy was responsible for development and management of the $20 million grant funding programs within the State’s Attorney’s office. She was a key player in creating programs for domestic violence victims, hate crimes victims and victims of human trafficking, as well as programs to address mortgage fraud, support community justice centers and enhance the use of DNA evidence.

Additionally, she helped lead the budget process for the State’s Attorney, which has given her great insight into the impact of budgets on government policy. While budget numbers shrunk, Cassidy found creative approaches to fund critical programs.

Since becoming a State Representative, Kelly has hit the ground running on a variety of issues involving economic development, criminal justice and social services. She helped to restore critical services that had been cut and opposed corporate bailouts in favor of small business development. She has been working on several bills to decrease crime by making it harder for criminals to get weapons and substantially increasing penalties for gun crimes.

Cassidy’s combination of non-profit sector, state and local government experience provides her with unique perspective, expertise and understanding that empowers her to serve as an outstanding representative for the 14th district.

Cassidy is a member of Temple Sholom. Cassidy, 42, lives in Rogers Park with her partner, Kelley Quinn, three sons and two dogs.

* To see a list of all Planned Parenthood Illinois Action endorsed candidates click on this link.

* To search for your district and elected officials, click here.

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