‘I Felt Really Empowered’: Freshman Lawmaker Reflects on First Legislative Session

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Press release from the Office of State Representative Mary Edly-Allen

For immediate release
August 22, 2019


This article about State Rep. Mary Edly-Allen is the first of a series of member highlights from the Illinois House Democratic Women’s Caucus. Rep. Mary Edly-Allen has wrapped up her first–and one of the more historic– legislative sessions in Illinois history.

LIBERTYVILLE–Mary Edly-Allen entered the Capitol in Springfield following a tumultuous four-year period that saw the state go for more than 700 days without a budget and led to extensive damage to a wide variety of state institutions, all while eroding trust between Democrats and Republicans. Despite the recent negative history under the Dome, Edly-Allen says she was still able to find areas of agreement and compromise to find solutions.

“I was very happy to find that despite the rhetoric, there are areas we can still work across the aisle,” Edly-Allen said. “My first bill was a measure to ensure that high school counselors are making students aware of all of their educational options, including vocational and trade schools. I found that it didn’t matter if you were a Democrat from Chicago or a Republican from Cairo; most people agree that a four-year university may not fit every student and that all students deserve economic opportunities.

“I was able to pass legislation addressing wrongful removal of trees, trying to ‘save the trees’ as it were. That type of issue might be something that could turn partisan, but we were able to work across the aisle to alleviate concerns and come up with a solution that received unanimous support.”

While not every issue will receive such unanimous approval, Edly-Allen was just as proud taking a stand for the rights of all people to be treated equally under the law: “I really felt empowered when the first bill I heard in the Education Committee was creating an all-inclusive LGBT curriculum in schools. I talked about it when I was campaigning and it felt good to take that vote and keep that promise.”


“I want people to know that government can work. It doesn’t have to be broken. I am here to help work through issues important to my constituents.”

                                                            -Rep. Mary Edly-Allen


Moving into her first summer as a legislator, Edly-Allen says she plans to keep a full schedule of events to ensure she is out there and available to her constituents: “I want people to know government can work. It doesn’t have to be broken. I am here to help work through issues important to my constituents.

Whether it’s helping lower your property taxes through our appeals seminar or helping you cut through red tape with a government agency, I want my constituents to know I work for them and I am on the job,” she added. I’ll be in the coffee shops, I’ll be walking through neighborhoods ringing door bells, not to ask for a vote, but to ask how I can help you today.”

Mary Edly-Allen represents the 51st House District, which includes all or parts of Barrington, Deer Park, Hawthorne Woods, Libertyville, Lake Zurich, and Mundelein.

The mission of the Illinois House Democratic Women’s Caucus is to promote the leadership of women elected to the Illinois House of Representatives and to create inclusive and collaborative policy outcomes for the state. The caucus is working to address systemic challenges for women in government and throughout the state, and to provide resources and forums for leadership development, mentoring and issue expertise that will elevate the role of women in public service.