Kessem sees lawmakers' handling of harassment claims as fostering distrust
Like many other Illinois residents, including her peers in campaigns to unseat incumbent politicians, Ammie Kessem is waiting to hear about updates on how state offices will handle sexual harassment claims and other ethics violations.
A Chicago city police officer, Kessem is a Republican running for state representative in District 19 for the seat held by Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago), Kessem spoke to North Cook News about how sexual harassment complaints and ethical questions have been dealt with at the state level.
“We have to do better than this,” Kessem said. “These people are being trusted with our welfare. If we cannot trust them to hold themselves responsible for their own institution, how in the world are we supposed to trust them with the state's business?”
Like other candidates that North Cook News spoke to last month, Kessem is disappointed with how long it took to fill an empty state inspector general position, which was finally filled by Julie Porter after being vacant for nearly three years.
It's just another example of why the public is so distrustful of our politicians,” Kessem said, suggesting the atmosphere that has held sway in the Capitol gave politicians the green light to disregard some of their responsibilities to the people.
“It is the constant disregard of rules that are supposed to be followed and then they aren't," she said. "It is the lack of accountability that our legislators are supposed to be held to."
Kessem also spoke to the idea that politicians create a double standard when they ask citizens to follow the rules and then fail on that score themselves.
“It is the hypocrisy of the political class that wants regulations on the public, yet they fail to hold themselves responsible for the same,” Kessem said.
However, unlike some others who are following sexual harassment claims very closely, Kessem said she doesn't feel that the state needs to release names of accused lawmakers before they have had their day in court or in a committee hearing.
“I do not think it is fair for someone's reputation to be ruined by another individual without proof of the incident actually occurring,” Kessem said.
House District 19 includes parts of Chicago, Harwood Heights and Norridge.