Democratic candidate for Illinois State House of Representatives for District 91 Karla Bailey-Smith held her first “Karla4IL” Vision Summit Thursday over Zoom.
Bailey-Smith’s campaign is focused around three priorities: protecting the natural environment, protecting human rights and defending working families and unions.
In this Vision Summit titled “Protecting the Environment: Ecology and our Economy,” Bailey-Smith focused on environmental issues and discussed how she plans to improve environmental policies in District 91 if elected as a state representative.
“I am committed to serving central Illinois and providing real representation for the people,” Bailey-Smith said. “I have involved myself in our community even more in the last year so that I really understand the needs that are not being met, so that if elected as your representative, I can seek to meet those needs and to solve the problems that exist.”
If elected as state representative, Bailey-Smith hopes to provide support for the agriculture sector of the district and address environmental issues such as roofs not being built with solar panels and urban sprawling.
“Now that I am in the 2022 campaign, I am seeking to learn more and be ready to implement [the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act] and one thing that we need to look down the road for is to require responsible closure of our fossil fuel plants,” Bailey-Smith said.
Sustainability and recycling are another part of Bailey-Smith’s campaign to create a better environment in Illinois.
“There are a couple of big ideas that I have that I would like to work on if elevated. One of them is banning single-use plastics in Illinois,” Bailey-Smith said.
“That is a really big idea, and we might just have to start with banning the use of plastic bags at grocery stores. There are other states that have done that. The next step is banning single-use plastics [like] water bottles because they don’t get recycled,” Bailey-Smith continued.
Bailey-Smith explained how plastics often do not get recycled because there is not enough demand for products made of recycled plastic, and even if the demand was there, plastic can only be recycled so many times. Glass and aluminum are the only two materials that are infinitely recyclable.
She would also like to work toward reducing the use of styrofoam which can be recycled but only in specific places. Illinois has very few places where styrofoam can be recycled, and most people are not aware that it can even be recycled.
Illinois State University students Nitakechi Muckintubbee and Devin Paoni joined Bailey-Smith during the vision summit to share their perspectives on the future of creating environmentally friendly policies.
Muckintubbee is the founder of TRIBE at ISU and a local environmental advocate. Muckintubbee advocated for environmental issues on behalf of Illinois Native American tribes that no longer live in Illinois by drawing from his own Native American heritage.
“[Bailey-Smith] has given me a confidence because she doesn’t see [being state representative of District 91] as just a stepping stone in her political career,” Muckintubbee said. “She sees this as a responsibility that she is willing to sacrifice her time for to allow us to enjoy this land and I am forever grateful for that.”
Paoni is a board member for the Student Environment Environmental Action Coalition and a member of the Student Sustainability Committee at ISU. During the vision summit, Paoni shared some ideas of what Bailey-Smith could do with her platform if elected.
“Something that I would like to see in the future would relate to environmental justice. I would love to see initiatives addressing not only the issues of corporations polluting water for example but also the intersectional, anti-racist approach that the environmental justice movement rests on,” Paoni said.
“Specifically, some other things I’d like to see are just broadly putting the environment before profits. We talked about large corporations and holding people accountable [like] those large shareholders and corporations for their pollution,” Paoni continued.
Bailey-Smith plans to hold more “Karla4IL” Vision Summits leading up to the primary elections.