Democratic primary voters in southwest Lake County have a choice between two candidates for their party’s nomination to the Illinois House of Representatives who have one thing in common — they say they are willing to work hard to get the job.

Chelsea Laliberte Barnes of Palatine and Nabeela Syed of Inverness have walked throughout the district since they decided to seek a seat in the General Assembly knocking on more than 10,000 doors each. They say they learned a lot and met many potential constituents.

Syed and Barnes are running for the Democratic nomination in the 51st District in Tuesday’s primary for the opportunity to oppose one-term incumbent Chris Bos, R-Lake Zurich, in the Nov. 8 general election. Bos is unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Both candidates learned from potential voters the economy was at the top of the peoples’ minds while campaigning. Though there are other issues — like gun violence and health care — inflation, jobs and taxes were always close to the top of the list.

“It’s not only taxes, but the cost of goods and services,” Barnes said. “We need to increase revenue by bringing in new businesses like technology, wind and solar.”

“People are concerned about the property tax system,” Syed said. “Large commercial sites should pay their fair share of (real estate) taxes.”

Hard work is part of the internal composition for Syed and Barnes, though they say they developed their intensity motivating them to run for the state legislature because they were passionate about different issues.

Barnes, 37, and a social worker who grew up in the southwest part of Lake County, is an advocate for laws and programs to help those with drug addiction. She founded Live4Lali to help individuals who suffer from drug addiction and their families, after the death of her brother, Alex Laliberte, from an overdose at 20.

State House District 51 Democratic candidate Chelsea Laliberte Barnes.
– Original Credit: News-Sun
(Chelsea Laliberte Barnes / HANDOUT)

Working with former U.S. Rep. Robert Dold, R-Kenilworth, to get legislation known as Lali’s Law passed to provide resources for people with drug addiction, and Lake County Judge Mike Nerheim when he was Lake County state’s attorney to establish the Lake County Opioid Initiative, Barnes said she knows how to work across the aisle.

“When you’re a not for profit you look at who is in office,” Barnes said. “Addiction is not a partisan issue. It’s a human issue. You have to try to work with those who can help. It will help me work across party lines.”

Syed, 23 and a University of California at Berkeley graduate, is passionate about voting rights and making access to the polls easier, not harder, for people. She works for a not for profit organization doing digital strategy for that issue as well as gender equity and sexual assault.

State House District 51 Democratic candidate Nabeela Syed.
– Original Credit: News-Sun
(Nabeela Syed / HANDOUT)

While Syed said she does not see efforts in Illinois to make voting harder rather than easier, it as a problem which must end elsewhere because it is such an essential part of democracy she wants to protect.

“Issues on the federal level trickle down to the states, like voting rights and senseless gun violence,” Syed said. “We have to keep our community and our democracy safe. Our state needs to be a leader. With my background, I can bring a fresh view to the statehouse.”

Born the same year as 12 students and a teacher were killed by two teenage gunmen at Columbine High School in Colorado, Syed said she does not know a world where active shooter drills were not part of a school routine.

“A policeman would jiggle the lock to see if anyone would open the door,” Syed said. “He was playing the role of a gunman. That should not have to be part of a child’s school day.”

Barnes said she looks at the world through the lens of a mother of a 3-year-old as she fashions her world view. She thinks about the things which trouble her, and does not want them to be issues for her child.

“I worry if he will have a government to work hard for him or the kind of government he may have,” Barnes said. “I worry that he might not have a planet to live on.”

The district includes parts of Barrington, Hawthorn Woods, Lake Zurich, Long Grove, Killdeer, Deer Park and Vernon Hills, as well as most of Palatine, Inverness and some of Hoffman Estates.

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June 23, 2022 at 06:42PM