SEP 13, 2023
Union organizer selected as new 9th District state representative
Yolonda Morris speaks at an appointment committee in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood on Tuesday. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]
Cook County Democratic committeepeople in the 9th House District met Tuesday to select Yolonda Morris, a union organizer from Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, to be the district’s new state representative.
Morris will replace Sen. Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago), who was appointed last month to fill a vacancy in the 5th Senate District. Morris was selected unanimously by the committee from a pool of five candidates. Chicago Ald. Monique Scott (24) led the committee with about 23 percent of the weighted vote.
The 9th House District includes much of the West Side of Chicago between the Eisenhower Expressway and Cermak Road. It reaches from near Cicero Avenue on the west end of the district to Franklin Street in the Loop. It also stretches north to North Avenue and includes parts of the West Loop, River North, Cabrini Green and Old Town.
Morris has worked as a nurse at a nursing home and most recently a union organizer for SEIU Healthcare, according to her resume. This allowed her to be active in Springfield for campaigns to raise the minimum wage and involved in collective bargaining discussions on behalf of SEIU members.
“Sen. Collins and I come from the nursing home trenches together,” Morris said. “We have knocked doors together, we have organized contracts together, so God knows what we’re going to do for this community.”
Morris told the selection committee her union organizing experience has given her the skill to become a successful lawmaker.
“I want to use those same skills in Springfield to advocate for our community,” Morris said.
Morris said she had the support of SEIU going into the appointment process, which Cook County Comm. John Daley (11) said he was happy to hear. Several SEIU members were in attendance on Tuesday supporting Morris.
"Morris developed a strong appreciation for the power of workers joining together as a certified nursing assistant and chief union steward at a long-term care facility, before joining SEIU Healthcare as an organizer in 2018," union President Greg Kelley said in a statement. "As both an organizer and a steward, Representative Morris led frontline caregivers in advocating for the wage, respect, safety provisions and staffing levels that benefit both workers and those for whom they provide care."
As candidates begin collecting signatures for the 2024 ballot, Morris might not go without a primary. She told the committee she would still consider running for the House seat if she was not selected. Wilonda Cannon, a North Lawndale resident who is a professional fundraiser and volunteer organizer, said she will still consider running for office. Anthony Jackson, a former House Democrats appropriations staff member, said he has already collected 250 signatures to get on next year’s ballot.
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