Chemberly Cummings for State Representative of 105th District: Love where you live!

There is yet to be a woman president, but we are slowly getting closer. Until then, we can get women in power by voting for them in local elections. Chemberly Cummings is a black woman who was introduced to politics by her grandmother at a young age. "I like to say I was born into politics," Cummings joked. An activist for voting and registering people to vote in the Civil Rights era post-Voting Rights Act. Growing up, Chemberly went to fundraisers and events with her grandmother, and even did door knocks with her. Because of this, she was introduced to candidates and elected officials. "I understood the importance of voting, and having elected officials," said Cummings. "I never thought I would be an elected official myself," Cummings said.

Cummings started off as an education major, but when the "No Child Left Behind Act"  passed she had a change of heart. "I became furious because I understood the impact it would have on inner-city students, and I went to inner-city schools," said Cummings. "I went to Cleveland public schools." She understood the necessities of resources. As an honors student, she had to take two public busses to school every day because honors classes were only offered at one school near her. She, along with other honors students, had to submit vouchers to get reimbursed for the bus passes.

After being a part of a group of honor students who were able to create a plan for the district to invest in, she immediately switched her major to political science. She currently has a seat on the Normal Town Council. Funny enough, she was encouraging a friend to run for a seat on council but ended up running herself. "The moment that it clicked, I found out that one of the two women who were on the council were going to step away," said Cummings. "I do not want to let that seat be given up to a man again."

She was the first person of color to have a position higher than deputy city manager. After attending a town hall that she felt was more like a pep rally, she felt that no one there spoke about topics that she could relate to. She felt they needed someone who could resonate with more people in the area. "Why would I not run. Why not?" She said people thought they were crazy for going up against someone who has been in office for 20 years, but that did not stop her.

Here are five important topics to her:

  1. 1. Chemberly wants Normal to "RISE"

    If you go to her campaign website, you'll see the word RISE which stands for "Revive Illinois Strong & Energetic." When I asked her what this meant to her she explained how Normal, IL is a "diamond in the rough" especially compared to the many towns she has visited. "How do we bring back that passion for our community, and bring it where all people feel welcome?" said Cummings. She said people are very negative and not excited about living in Normal anymore. She wants to change everyone's perspective and remind them why it's such a great place to live.

  2. 2. She thinks we need to "Re-imagine" Public Safety

    A hot topic lately is reforming/defunding the police. I asked Chemberly what she thought about it. "It is time to re-imagine public safety," said Cummings. Another interesting idea she strongly believes in, is giving police officers time off similar to what they do to military men when they go to war. "Police don't deal with war, but there is the reality that there becomes this desensitatzation," said Cummings. She explained that when you regularly see women, children, or people in general in horrible conditions, they lose that feeling that everyday people have when they see things like that. "I believe that there should be a leave that police go through, even if it's not that they're not working at all. You go sit at the desk for three months." Cummings believes this would allow cops to feel more human.

    Another change she believes in for public safety is joining together mental health professionals with police officers. However, she said there is a lack of that profession especially in Normal. "We struggle to find people to fill the role of psychologists and psychiatrists who can help in McLean County [Mental Wellness Center]," said Cummings. "We struggle to find school psychologists." She would like to find a way to encourage more people to go into that field. "We do need some that can work with police department so when they're going into a situation that it might be a person who has mental illness, the mental health specilaist can feel safe because they have a police officer," said Cummings. "The police officer can feel more informed because they have a mental health professional with them."

  3. 3. Social Equity is on the top of her list

    Sensitivity training has been discussed a great deal lately in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. "I know at the federal level we have someone who is not for sensitivity training and things of that nature," said Cummings. "I feel like the state of Illinois, we have got to get that together." Cummings said there have been certain deals presented around sensitivity and cultural training, but it has not been mandated. There are courses that are offered, but they are only forty hours. She also said you can only get sensitivity training after you have been on the force for two years. "I think that's too late," said Cummings. 

  4. 4. Supports Mail In Voting - Did you know people being held in jail have the right to vote?

    "I have no problem with mail-in voting," said Cummings. "My first time was my very first year in college." It's hard to change over addresses and get to know who is running when you move to a new place, so she thought mail-in was best way at that time. However, she does encourage college students to vote in their college town. Cummings also pointed out that people who are being held in jail before their court date have the right to vote, and she hopes they all know that. Without mail-in voting, they might not be able to. "Their right has not been taken away at that time," said Cummings. "They have not been determined guilty or innocent, they should have the right to vote."

  5. 5. She wants people to know where their tax money is going.

    The fair tax amendment is currently on the ballot for people to vote on. Cummings said "barring the fair tax amendment is passed," she wants people to understand where the money is going, and not to worry about that. "I think it's up to our leadership, it's up to our legislators to put some teeth around it and give [the people] some security," said Cummings. She wants the people to know they are going to do what is right and best for everyone.

Be sure to get registered to vote, and hit the polls. If you are not voting by mail, early voting is underway. The official election day is November 3rd.