CHICAGO, Ill. – This week, Illinois’ first Asian-American state legislator was sworn into office when state Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago, took the oath in Springfield at the Illinois House of Representatives Inauguration Ceremony.
“Being the first Asian-American to serve in the Illinois General Assembly is a tremendous honor, as well as an important responsibility to my community,” said Mah. “There are many challenges facing our state and I am eager to get to work to represent my constituents and to make my community proud.”
Mah takes office in the midst of a tumultuous time in Springfield and Washington DC politics. The budget stalemate brought about by Bruce Rauner’s corporate demands to dismantle the working class have resulted in the decimation of social services through the state, including funding for children with autism, people with disabilities, senior citizens, homeless veterans, and the undocumented community. Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools deals with a major budget shortfall that puts the quality of education at risk for the students of Mah’s near-southwest side district.
At the same time, Donald Trump’s election has put many in Chicago on edge, with his inflammatory rhetoric demonizing many minority communities, especially those who are undocumented immigrants. Despite the challenges facing the state, Mah is energized to get to work and to help build a progressive coalition of community members, educators, and elected officials to push for reforms to strengthen public education, support immigrant communities, and to bring small businesses to the region to create more jobs.
“We face great challenges in our communities and our state,” said Mah. “But the time is now to begin to work to make sure we have a state that works for all residents, and not just the few who can take advantage of the system at the expense of the middle-class and working families.
Mah is serving her first term in the Illinois General Assembly as State Representative of the 2nd District, which includes the Chicago neighborhoods Pilsen, Chinatown, Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Brighton Park and Back of the Yards.