PEKIN – Zoey Carter, an out transgender woman from Pekin, has announced her candidacy for the Illinois House District 93 seat.
“I am running because I know that we are not getting the proper representation that we deserve,” Carter said in her announcement. If elected, she could be the first out trans person in the Illinois General Assembly and one of a very small number nationally.
Carter specifically called out some of the far-right campaigning that has been happening at the local level in the state.
“Our state is the best one in the nation, and it’s about time we had a representative from Central Illinois that believes that,” she said in the announcement. “Because we shouldn’t be aiming to Make Illinois like Florida, or any other state for that matter.”
Her focuses are rural development, the cost of living, including food, housing, medication, and childcare, as well as LGBTQ rights.
Carter told the Illinois Eagle that her reason for running for office is the people of the district.
“I’ve lived in the Pekin area my entire life,” she said. “I’m an outdoorswoman, a mechanic. I fish and camp. I’ve been a dirt track racer. And all the people that I’ve known and met are genuinely some of the kindest, most hardworking people.”
Carter also said that those people often feel forgotten or ignored, a common sentiment for Illinois residents outside of the Chicago area.
“The conservative leadership in the area spends way too much time complaining, but don’t actually do much to speak or help the public,” she said. “We need leadership that listens, that works.”
The current state representative for the district is Travis Weaver (R-Pekin). Carter is running as a Democrat.
The announcement comes at a time when anti-LGBTQ sentiment, especially towards trans people, has risen sharply, both nationally and in Illinois. But Carter isn’t worried about that. While there are those who wouldn’t approve of her running for office, her experience has shown most people are responsive about LGBTQ issues, including conservatives.
“In fact, people in my experience have more vocal opinions on either the economy or abortion access than trans people,” she said. “I truly feel safe in my home.”
Though she could be the first trans person in state government, she’s not the first outside of Chicago to run for office and win. Alana Banks of Decatur became the first black trans woman to win a public school board seat in the country and Clare Killman is the first trans person to win a seat on an Illinois city council.
“I think that it comes down to people are ready for change,” Carter said. “Illinois does a lot for the community, but why should that be limited to the progressive areas like Chicago, Bloomington and Peoria? This is my community, and I absolutely love it.”
As for making history, that isn’t her goal. Helping the Pekin community is.
“Making history would just be an added bonus,” Carter said.
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