American voices are growing in the nation to what they view is the slow pace of progress since President Biden’s election. Yet, a first year that weathered rolling storms across our nation saw a newly elected president piloting in strong, steady, and stable leadership. The president and his administration presided over the highest distribution of rental aid – nearly 10 million people in over 3 million households have been assisted. A public works, $1 trillion bi-partisan bill passed in November, with funding for bridges, rail, roads and public buildings. Illinois is in line for $1.4 billion in federal funding, which is just a portion of the $17 billion our state is expected to receive. With 2,300 bridges in poor condition, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois” six-year plan and $45 billion construction program will receive $275 million in the first year.

For over two years, our state, our hospitals, our medical community, our schools, our businesses and citizens have been battered by COVID-19 and recently Omnicron. But our daily safety has come in the form of vaccines. More than a half-billion COVID vaccines have been administered in the U.S. And as just announced, the federal government is providing free COVID tests and equally needed free N95 masks. Although we mourn the 950K deaths, many have survived because of the vaccines. We soldier on for the better days ahead.

Our democratic wins for the office of president, house and senate did not stop with our vote. Our work as voters must continue to help us keep it. The Constitution’s democratic pillars and its very foundation are being smothered by an autocratic force determined to undermine our Republic. These forces want you, the voter, to feel shortchanged. These forces want the working poor to stay the working poor. And, the only way for them to win is through voter suppression in a growing number of states, to deter legislation for Build Back Better and to make it harder for free and fair elections by passing oppressive voting laws.

Who we are and what we do now matters. The sun came out this morning, glistening on recent falling snow. It’s cold, bitter cold, but we in Illinois have faced harsh winters before. The spirit of a community is always open to the least of its neighbors, and right now we soldier on. It’s petition time and we need to get our candidates on the ballot.