Sharon Fairley, candidate for Attorney General
Illinois – and our nation – are facing unprecedented peril. To overcome it, we need experienced, principled leadership to defend our democracy and our hard-won rights.
We have been through tough times before. I studied mechanical and aerospace engineering in college and obtained an M.B.A. after graduation. I spent years after that pursuing a career in business and advertising while also raising a family until the events of September 11, 2001.
I wanted to get involved and help make a difference, so I went back to school at the University of Chicago and got a law degree. Since that time, I have only worked on behalf of the people of Illinois.
Those experiences – as a former federal prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General, and as a leader in criminal justice reform here in Chicago – will allow me to provide the leadership we need to work for progressive change in our justice system and in our communities.
I am grateful to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for her years of service to this state. She charted a course of relentless, passionate and fearless leadership that I am committed to taking forward from here.
And I am also grateful to her for giving me my first job out of law school, where I first learned the ropes as an Assistant Attorney General under her helm.
I then spent eight years prosecuting federal criminal cases as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. I investigated and prosecuted large narcotics and firearms trafficking cases, complex fraud matters, and I worked closely with law enforcement on national security threats to keep our communities safe.
In 2015, I joined the City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General as First Deputy and General Counsel. I was passionate about the office’s mission to root out government corruption and inefficiency.
In December 2015, with the City in crisis following the officer-involved shooting of Laquan McDonald, I became Chief Administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency responsible for police misconduct investigations.
The agency was badly broken. I immediately set to work on critical reforms, then worked diligently to build the new Civilian Office of Police Accountability in its place.
While there is still more work to do, the new agency stands ready to combat police misconduct and rebuild public trust. I’m proud of the work I’ve done across these different agencies, delivering justice, good government, and citizen oversight.
Today, our civil rights are under siege, not by some outside force, but by our very own president.
Our next Attorney General must defend our people and local governments against the Trump Administration’s regressive and unconstitutional attacks. She must stand against corruption, protect consumers from fraud and abuse, and hold our government accountable.
For me, this pursuit of justice is deeply personal.
I am a mom. I have two young adult children and I worry for their safety, like any mother of Black children does today – when as we know, a simple traffic stop can end in tragedy.
I am also personally motivated by the experiences of the Illinoisans I have already had the privilege to represent. I will always remember the father of a bank teller killed during a particularly violent bank robbery on the south side of Chicago. I investigated and prosecuted the crime.
The teller’s father sat in the courtroom every time the case was a called in court. For a parent who has lost a child, there can never be complete closure. Yet we can and must strive for justice to be served.
These shared human experiences stay with me and give me the courage and commitment to tackle the serious problems we face.
I have witnessed to the power of the justice system when it works – when we make changes that offer our communities greater security and fairness – not only in terms of dealing with violent crime, but in areas like fair consumer lending practices, and protection from fraudulent business schemes.
I am moved to run by the conviction that we can do better. And because of the threats to our democracy, by the urgent necessity that we must do better.
These are my values as a mother, attorney, former businesswoman, and a lifelong Democrat. Our county chairmen are the backbone of the Democratic Party of Illinois and I thank you for all the work you do, especially in areas of state where Democrats are greatly outnumbered. I’m ready to take on Trump and Rauner and anyone else who infringes upon the rights of Illinoisans, and I hope you will be willing to stand by my side.