Former Illinois State Representative Litesa Wallace launched her campaign for Congress Wednesday seeking the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos. She made the announcement during an exclusive interview with Local 4 News.
Wallace is the fourth Democrat to enter her party’s primary race, including Rockford Ald. Jonathan Logemann, Rock Island County Board member Angie Normoyle, and former WQAD-TV meteorologist Eric Sorensen.
“I believe I will be able to get things done in Washington,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “I’m a great listener; I’m a good counselor. I think that’s extremely important.”
Wallace brings the most political credentials to the table of any candidate in the race so far, Republican or Democrat. She served as the Illinois State Representative for District 67, which includes Rockford, in Springfield from 2014 to 2019.
Wallace also has experience in a statewide race. She ran on Daniel Biss’ ticket in his campaign for Illinois Governor in 2018. Biss lost in the primary to eventual Governor JB Pritzker. Wallace was Biss’ choice for Lieutenant Governor.
Wallace was born in Chicago and now lives in Rockford. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University. She has a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from Northern Illinois University and has a Ph.D in educational psychology.
Her career outside of politics includes teaching as a professor and working as a mental health counselor. Wallace also helped create the Rockford Anti-Racism Network.
How does she distinguish herself in a crowded lineup of Democrats seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) in Congress?
“I believe that my track record of getting things done in the state legislature will hopefully allow residents to see that I’m a person who will advocate for our district in Washington, D.C.,” Wallace said.
When she was in the Illinois General Assembly, there was a lot of debate during the administration of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, she noted. “I was able to pass bipartisan measures that have benefited parts of the district — including extending for five years the River’s Edge Historic Tax Credit, and renew areas like Rockford and Peoria in our district.”
Wallace fought for the $15 minimum wage, and worked in a bipartisan way with GOP lawmakers, she said. “There’s a way to work through the strife, and do what I call exploit the common ground,” she said, to serve all families of the district.
“I believe that experience and that track record of getting things done will help me and the district, as I move to Washington to get things done there,” Wallace said.
She is a therapist and educator by profession; however, she was the first appointed Chief-of-Staff to former State Representative Charles E. Jefferson. It was during her time as chief of staff that she began to reflect on the role of policy-making and legislation in impacting the issues she’s been so passionate about as an educator and therapist, according to her bio.
Before going to work for Rep. Jefferson, she spent more than a decade counseling children and adults in need of mental health services – including child abuse victims and families in crisis.