URBANA — Democrat Carol Ammons said she wanted "to give the voiceless a voice, to make the invisible and ignored visible, and to empower the 99 percent" in her campaign for the Illinois House in the district that includes almost all of Champaign and Urbana.
Ammons, 41, a member of the Urbana City Council, formally announced her candidacy Tuesday at Carle Park in front of Lorado Taft's "Lincoln the Lawyer" statue. The date had significance, she said, because "it marks the start of the Affordable Care Act, an opportunity to help millions of people."
At least one other Democrat — county board member Michael Richards of Champaign — is seeking that party's nomination. Kristin Williamson of Urbana is the only announced Republican candidate for the 103rd District House seat, which will be vacated in January 2015 by longtime Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.
Ammons said she had "a strong advocacy background" and would work for the University of Illinois, which she called "our downstate anchor institution," and "access to affordable health care." She also pledged to "focus on providing more opportunities for employment, housing, early childhood education, and advocating for resources for health and human services."
Ammons, currently unemployed, has worked for 13 years in social service agencies, including Catholic Charities, the Boys and Girls Club and the READY School, she said.
Among other issues, Ammons said she favors a switch from Illinois' flat income tax to a progressive tax, would vote for gay marriage and said that any public pension reform bill has to include protections for current and retired employees.
"Those who have paid into their pensions need to be paid what is due to them. I don't believe that state legislators should do anything to reduce their pensions whatsoever. Those are already earned," she said. "And they should be paid out on their investment."
Asked about expanded gambling in Illinois and in particular a casino in Danville, Ammons said she personally is opposed to gambling "but I know people enjoy that form of entertainment. Danville is a community that really needs some investment."
She said she grew up in Joliet, which has two casinos "and the community has grown based on that. I've seen that, so I don't find it to be completely objectionable."
She is married to Aaron Ammons and has three children, ranging in age from 24 to 11.