Mussman rival won't accept excuses in sex harassment controversy
House hopeful Jillian Bernas says she is going to change Springfield — if she can get there.
The Republican candidate in the 56th House District told the North Cook News that no one should have to suffer through the kinds of sexual harassment activist Denise Rotheimer has alleged against Senate Majority Caucus Whip Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago).
“Springfield is full of career politicians that put power and self-interest over people,” Bernas, who lost to Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) last year, said. “The growing number of sexual harassment complaints and victims displays how powerful legislators often know what needs to be done and fail to act.”
That includes Mussman, she said.
“I am stunned that powerful career politicians like my opponent admit to knowing sexual harassment happens yet do nothing to give a voice to the victims,” Bernas, who garnered 44.7 percent of the vote in 2016, said.
The international relations manager and former teacher said Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s (D-Burr Ridge) suggestion for a sexual harassment hotline and House Speaker Michael Madigan’s (D-Chicago) introduction of Senate Bill 402, which would require lawmakers, staff members and lobbyists to undergo sexual harassment training annually, are bogus.
“The training proposed by Madigan and a hotline proposed by Durkin are just responses by legislators who feel a need to propose a solution because they have failed to fix this issue all along,” Bernas said. “We need a clear pathway for reporting sexual harassment to the inspector general.”
Bernas said the Legislative Ethics Commission tasked with handling ethics complaints against legislators failed to appoint an investigator general for more than two years, letting complaints pile up.
“This is a failure of leadership characteristic of Springfield,” Bernas said. “I am running for state representative because we need people in Springfield that will act on information.
Born and raised in Schaumburg, Bernas said reports of sexual harassment should be taken very seriously and followed to their conclusion.
“When I am in Springfield, I plan to act when I know something is wrong, especially something as serious as sexual harassment,” Bernas said.
District 56 includes Schaumburg, Hanover Park, Roselle and Elk Grove Village.