Office of State Senator Heather Steans - Imani Thornton

Office of State Senator Heather Steans

During this summer I learned a great deal about what it means to be a politician and be of service to one’s constituents – it is a tough job with many hands needed to strive towards daily goals. In attending various meetings, I have had a great time understanding how inter-sectional viewpoints may help enliven and strengthen policy and legislation, even if it may make such processes more difficult. Politics are not emotionless – and to be a state senator or involved in public office means balancing the greater good of a people and considering the individual needs of those who most need help.

I went to the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago one day, on assignment to take notes about the consolidation of a center that gives access to disabled members of the community. Apparently, the event I was meant to attend was originally a private meeting. I stayed anyway, hoping to melt into the crowd of folks who were quite angry at the commissioner for overseeing the closure the center because of budget issues. As I took notes, I realized that I never really had thought about what blind patrons must do in order to gain access to libraries. There were at least 30 blind patrons in that meeting who had decided to make their voices heard to the commissioner; there were quite a few who had followed this case for a long time and were determined not to be duped by the Chicago Public Library system. All this time, nothing of the kind had ever been on my mind and I sat there quietly taking my notes. I think that experience was something that stuck with me for a couple reasons. My urge to get such information to the state senator, with hopes to do something about it, had little to do with me. I have the privilege of being an abled-body person. So the cause that upset these patrons had little to do with me personally. That meeting taught me that perhaps causes and those that politicians choose to care about do not directly have to effect those politicians and perhaps they shouldn’t. To be a caretaker and servant of the people means empathizing with those who may have different issues than yourself and vowing to try and do something about it.