STERLING – Democrat Joan Padilla officially kicked off her campaign Wednesday to make another run for state representative in Illinois’ 71st District.
Padilla, 55, of Sterling, announced her candidacy in East Moline before returning to do the same in her hometown, at the United Steelworkers Local 63 headquarters. About 50 local Democrats were there to lend their support.
Padilla is executive director at Home of Hope Cancer Wellness Center in Dixon. Her first run against state Rep. Tony McCombie of Savanna last year was a good learning experience, she said.
Her only other foray into politics was an unsuccessful run for Whiteside County recorder several years ago. Despite the experience she gained from her House run, she still steers clear of the “politician” label.
“I learned a lot during the first run – that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and listening to people, but I’m still not a politician,” Padilla said. “In the months to follow, I hope I can get the message out that my experience as a nonprofit director allows me to do things differently than others in Springfield.”
McCombie earned a second term in the House by taking nearly 59 percent of the vote last November. The former Savanna mayor and Padilla were unopposed in their respective primaries.
Reflecting on her first run, Padilla believed she had a good message, but needed more time to prepare and get it to the people. By announcing early, she hopes to reach more voters. The core of that message will essentially remain the same.
“We need growth in this district, and that means a focus on jobs, education, infrastructure and public safety. We need to help give families here a better quality of life,” Padilla said.
Having a Democratic governor and big majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly provided extra incentive for Padilla to make another run.
“A lot has happened in the last election cycle,” she said. “We have a bold governor with new ideas and it’s very exciting. We can’t afford to have a representative who is voting ‘no’ on crucial issues that affect our district.”
Padilla used some of McCombie’s “no” votes as a framework for what she believes to be some basic differences between the two.
“She voted against the minimum wage. She voted against the capital bill that will create hundreds of new jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars in economic development. She voted against the capital bill that will help the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus and the Chicago to Quad Cities passenger rail,” Padilla said.
Other priorities of Padilla’s campaign include reducing property taxes, cutting all taxes for the middle class, and enacting mandatory performance audits of state agencies.
Padilla plans to host a series of “Grow the 71st District” meetings with community and economic development leaders in an effort to build an agenda for regional economic growth. The first meeting has not yet been scheduled.
The 71st District includes eastern Rock Island County and parts of Henry, Whiteside, and Carroll counties.
Race: 71st District state representative
Education: Studied dental hygiene at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Western Illinois University, bachelor's degree in liberal arts and sciences
Political experience: Unsuccessfully ran for Whiteside County recorder in 2013, Sauk Valley Community College Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2011; ran for state representative in 2018.
Profession: Executive director at Hope of Hope Cancer Wellness Center in Dixon
Family: Husband, Tom; four children, Christian, Leo, Rachel, Vincent; granddaughter, Iris