RACE: U.S. House - District 1

About the Candidate

Name: Charise A. Williams
DOB: May 5, 1977
Occupation: Former Chief of Staff/Deputy Director of ICJIA
Political Experience: None.    
Website: chariseforcongress.com
Twitter: @putyou1st
Facebook: facebook.com/charise.a.williams/
Instagram: @charise4congress

Candidate Statement

I am Charise Williams, the first woman to be elected to the 1st Congressional District. I am running for Congress because we haven’t seen the changes we deserve in the 1st District. Residents are still plagued with lead pipes, congested highways, high unemployment and are afraid to leave their homes. 

Before running for Congress, I worked for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, where I oversaw a $500M budget and disbursed over $1 billion in State and Federal grants. I framed increases in crime through a public health lens allowing me to deploy resources in mental health, violence prevention programs, and police training programs. The R3 grant program I implemented took almost $150 million of tax revenue from recreational cannabis and invested in those communities most impacted by the war on drugs. 

Prior to ICJIA, I worked at the Chicago Federation of Labor and created the HIRE360 job training program to increase participation of women and minorities into union apprenticeships. These jobs change generational debt to generational wealth with good wages, generous pensions, and quality healthcare.

As your Congresswoman, I will make sure that the 1st District gets its fair share of funding from the historic $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Our seniors deserve to age in place comfortably and with comprehensive healthcare. Women deserve the same pay and bodily autonomy as men. Small businesses and farmers deserve the same access to capital as big, multi-national corporations. And our students deserve quality, affordable educations and to live free from massive student debt. 

On June 28th, join me, Charise Williams, as we reclaim American democracy for the people and by the people. My experience administering federal funding means that the 1st District can rest assured that every dollar of infrastructure funding will go to the people, and we will build a better community together! 

You can learn more about my campaign and qualifications at my website.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

I am running because our community has a unique opportunity to build the change we want to see and to shape the future of Illinois. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a tremendous opportunity to fund public works projects and get America back on its feet after a devastating economic cycle and global pandemic. My extensive experience in oversight of state and federal funding gives me the expertise to effectively allocate funding, ensure it is spent effectively and fully accounted for.

I am also running because it is time we make history in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District by electing me as the first woman to represent the district. For over 100 years, this district has been historically Black and Democratic, but in all that time, the district has never sent a woman to Congress. Hot on the heels of Vice-President Harris, and Justice Brown Jackson, I intend to become the first woman elected by the 1st District.

We need more women of color in politics. Representation leads to participation, and I am confident that if I am elected it will encourage the next generation of female legislators and elected officials. I hope that my bid for Congress will inspire at least one little girl out there to dream of making it to the Capitol, or even, the White House!

What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?

This office has been instrumental in serving as an advocate for justice involved individuals, helping constituents with passport issues, being a fierce advocate on reducing gun violence and increasing union jobs in the district. These issues are vital to the state and will have a lasting impact on generations to come.

Ensuring federal resources as distributed equally throughout the district is a key component of the work my office will do. It is important that all constituents feel engaged and have access to the information regardless of where they live. The district is extremely diverse and therefore have different needs, as the congresswoman, I will make sure that all residents have the representation they need and have an advocate in D.C.

What is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?

Economic development is the most pressing issue facing the constituents of the 1st District. Rightfully, certain parts of the district express grave concerns about crime. While others struggle to put food on the table or buy insulin for a diabetic child. In addition to those who worry about the solvency of their retirement benefits, rising healthcare costs for their aging parents and mounting student debt. These issues plague voters from Bronzeville to Bremen. And despite their disparate impacts, they share a common denominator, a lack of economic development.

By working with the community and community leaders, we can strengthen our economic development by increasing the minimum wage, creating decent-paying jobs, and providing access to capital, are some of the best tools we can use to fix this system.

Using the funds awarded to Illinois under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we can create thousands of long-term, jobs for the people of the 1st District. Our roads, bridges, schools, and pipes need to be redesigned or repaired. Increasing Illinois’ investments to develop and deploy renewable fuel sources not only puts constituents to work but lays the foundation for decades of future innovation.

We’ve waged wars on crime, drugs, and poverty, but are no closer to the America we want and need. Now that we have an expansionary fiscal plan, we can use that money to put people to work in careers that will give them a lifetime of dignity and economic security. This is my plan for addressing the issues that concern my district the most.

What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?

Accessibility and responsiveness are qualities every elected official should embody. Once I am Congresswoman, I will maintain an open-door policy at my office, allowing constituents to voice their concerns about the district or just stop by for a chat. We will also send newsletters to constituents via e-mail, postal mail, communicate using text messages, social media and my website to keep residents of the district informed of key dates, events, and resources. We will host town halls and community forums to ensure that every constituent has access to federal and local resources.

Attending community meetings held by aldermen, members of city councils, and state representatives allows me to engage voters at the local level. I already have good working relationships with several current U.S. Representatives from Illinois and will continue coordinating with them to enhance the effectiveness of our communication efforts. My work with non-profit service providers, community organizations, and government agencies offers residents additional opportunities to let me know what they need in the district.