Republicans candidates in 43rd state Senate District say they have something unique to offer voters
Republican candidates Diane Harris and Michelle Lee both believe they're uniquely qualified to flip the traditionally Democratic seat in the 43rd state Senate District.
First, though, they need the chance to prove it to voters by winning next month's primary election.
"I'm doing this because I see a problem, and I want to fix it," Lee said. "I am not a politician. I'm a public servant. And that's what I plan to be."
Lee and Harris are on the June 28 primary ballot, vying to take on the Democratic candidate -- either Eric Mattson or Rachel Ventura -- in the general election for the district that serves portions of Woodridge, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Romeoville and other communities.
While the Republican opponents agree on many issues, the candidates are presenting their different life experiences as an appeal to district residents.
"I have a message that I think the community and the district individuals need to hear," said Harris, a Joliet Public Library trustee.
"Being a Republican and African-American is not normal, but I have always focused on the platform," she said. "And the platform is the platform I learned in my Baptist church. I couldn't consider any other ballot, because I am a Republican."
Both candidates were raised in Democratic-leaning households, although Harris said she's been a Republican for more than 40 years. Lee said she shifted to the Republican Party after being disappointed in the Barack Obama presidency.
Lee, who was elected to the Joliet Junior College Board of Trustees, also said becoming a mother in her teens helped shape her views.
"My daughter saved my life," she said. "I can tell you right now that I probably would've went down the wrong road had I chose to get an abortion and not have her to check my decision-making and make me look in the mirror. I was a Democrat, and then I became a teen mom and became pro-life."
Despite agreeing on issues such as less taxation through smart consolidation of taxing bodies, the candidates differ slightly in other areas.
Harris said she's an abortion opponent with no exceptions, but Lee supports early-term abortions in cases of rape and incest or to save the life of the mother. Lee would like to see marijuana tax money dedicated to funding pensions, while Harris believes municipalities should have more say in the use of that revenue.
"I've always spoke out, even being alone in this arena for myself and this area," Harris said. "I've been alone for a long time in terms of being an African-American female and speaking as a Republican."