New female candidates from across the suburbs are planning runs for offices at all levels, spurred on by the election of President Donald Trump and the activism of the Women's March early this year. Meet a sampling of first-time candidates seeking various offices from county board to U.S. Congress.
Sadia Covert, 34, of Naperville
• DuPage County District 5, Democrat
• Attorney and mother of three who co-wrote an update to Illinois hate crimes law, runs a nonprofit organization that provides cultural education and trains police officers on cultural competency. "I am not going to make my kids or marriage as an excuse not to run for office and to hold myself back."
Joyce Mason, 48, of Gurnee
• State House District 61, Democrat
• A new school board member in Woodland Elementary District 50 and domestic violence survivor who has started a moms group against Trump and participated in a VoteRunLead political training that equips women to "run as you are." "I feel like I can put my experience to work, and I never thought that before."
Anne Stava-Murray, 31, of Naperville
• State House District 81, Democrat
An "accidental co-founder" of a grass-roots political group formed after the Women's March who has worked as a marketing researcher and strategist and organized several local rallies for progressive causes. "We're all so interwoven. If there's ever been a year to run as a newcomer to the field, this is the year because there are so many resources available and built to help first-time candidates that didn't exist in the past."
Valerie Montgomery, 45, of Naperville
• State House District 41, Democrat
• Mother of a teenager with autism and telecommunications finance professional trained through the Emily's List program for female candidates who support a pro-abortion rights platform.
"I have to take everything I've learned throughout my entire life and put fourth the best fight. I'm old enough to respect the people who've done the job before me."
Ann Gillespie, 58, of Arlington Heights
• State Senate District 27, Democrat
• Health care process improvement consultant who advocated locally for minimum wage increases, helped form a Mount Prospect-based progressive group and was encouraged to run for state Senate instead of village board. "If any place needs process improvement, it's Springfield."
Lauren Underwood, 31, of Naperville
• U.S. House District 14, Democrat
• Nurse and former federal Health and Human Services adviser who says a Congress with more female leaders will prioritize health care reforms, equal pay and child-care issues. "It's fantastic that there is a national environment that recognizes women leaders and says almost like, 'It's about time. Of course you're qualified. Of course you can lead.'"