The next few weeks will determine if candidate for the Illinois House’s 5th district Felicia Bullock will fulfill a lifelong dream of holding public office along with igniting the changes she believes are necessary within her community.
“I’m running because I want to see effective leadership in Springfield,” said Bullock. “I want to make sure our communities have what they need; I want to make sure that our communities are safe.”
The first-time candidate described the campaign process as “sink or swim.”
“I don’t think anyone would want their first race to be this kind of crazy race but I do feel like there’s so many lessons to be learned here,” said Bullock. “My eyes have been truly opened about how things work in politics. You hear the myths about what happens behind the scenes in politics, but to see it in action because of the race that I’m in… by how high people view the stakes here.”
One “lesson” Bullock could not have been prepared for as she gathered to run for office was the presumed agenda of those in the Democratic Party. She told the Defender that representatives from the party asked her to withdraw from the race in an effort not to split the vote against one of her opponents, former State Rep. Ken Dunkin, during the petitioning stage of her campaign.
“I’m sure you’re aware that the party is not a fan of Ken Dunkin so very early on the party vetted candidates, they were very clear, they wanted to pick a candidate to go against Ken Dunkin head-to-head, and at that they asked me, ‘if we back someone who isn’t you would you be willing to withdraw from the race,’ ” said Bullock. “I told them then I would not be willing to withdraw from the race because at this point, I am committed. I said I would respect their decision to back someone else but I would not withdraw from the race.”
Bullock said after collecting, filing and defending her petitions, she was called in to an additional meeting with representatives of the Democratic Party where she was again asked to withdraw. She said after having these conversations she was not intimidated, however she did say the meeting organizers may have wanted her to be intimidated. She credited her husband and family for supporting her over the past few weeks.
“I was a bit disheartened that the party wouldn’t let democracy run the way it was supposed to be run,” said Bullock. “It’s not their decision who ends up on the ballot. If people do all the work it takes to go into petitioning and they make it through the challenging phase, that’s it.”
The Defender reached out to the Cook County Democratic Party to verify Bullock’s claim and was instructed to forward all inquiries to various bodies within the party for an official statement. That official statement had not been received at press time.
Criticisms have mounted against Bullock while she’s been on the trail; critics have talked about the number of years she has resided within the fifth district, her age, and about her employment with the University of Chicago.
Bullock, who is still working full-time with the UC as a senior buyer while campaigning, has worked in the procurement realm since graduating from Northern Illinois University where she earned a degree in political science. She said UC gets a “bad rap” for its procurement efforts when compared to companies she previously worked at that exhibited precious little effort in diversity related efforts. However, she was clear to state UC “absolutely” has room for improvement.
Bullock shared that she experienced ageism based on some of the questions she was asked.
“I think people look at me and think ‘you have all the rest of your life to do this’,” said Bullock, who is 30. “They think it’s OK not to vote for you this time because you have another 30 years to run for office; well that’s not right, that should not be a reason you don’t vote for me. We need a diverse representation of people in Springfield, including age. If everyone in Springfield is the same age, how do our ideals get represented?”
Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Bullock is an “extremely passionate” alumna of Chicago Public Schools, having attended local city schools all her life, and she wants people to have the same “excellent” education she received. And yet while on the campaign trail, she knows everyone has not had the same positive experience she did. She believes a step forward in that direction would be the creation of an elected school board to ensure all voices within the community are heard.
“It’s important for us to move in that direction for the community to have a voice, parents to have a voice…[with] the people who are making the decision for the school,” said Bullock.
Despite what may come her way, Bullock maintains she will not “play dirty.”
“I’m a Christian, I’m a woman of faith and I will not compromise my faith at all during this process,” said Bullock.
For more information about Felicia Bullock, visit https://www.feliciabullock.com/.