Northwestern research fellow challenges Gabel for state representative seat


Source: Daniel Trujillo on Facebook.

Daniel Trujillo. Trujillo, who is a research fellow at Northwestern, is running as the Green Party candidate for Illinois’ 18th District.

Catherine Henderson, Assistant City Editor

Daniel Trujillo, a research fellow at Northwestern, said he was “frustrated” watching state politics from the sidelines and decided he had to get involved.

He is now running as the Green Party candidate for Illinois’ 18th District representative seat against incumbent state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston).

Trujillo announced his candidacy at the beginning of 2018 and has since been campaigning to collect signatures to appear on the ballot in November, his campaign press secretary Molly Laatsch said. Although Trujillo has the Green Party’s endorsement, he said he identifies as an independent and votes across party lines.

“I myself am just a regular, working-class father,” Trujillo said. “I have six children. … We’re involved in the everyday lives of raising children and being a part of our community.”

Trujillo said he is facing a plethora of challenges trying to get on the ballot. Ballot access procedures are particularly “regressive” in Illinois, he said.

As a third party candidate, he said he must receive signatures from 5 percent of the voting population from the last election — about 5,000 signatures — while Democratic and Republican candidates only need 500 signatures. Candidates file signatures between June 18 and 25, giving Trujillo some time to get on the ballot. He said there is a good chance his signatures will be challenged, so his campaign must be especially thorough.

Laatsch said she is working to make her candidate visible in the community. She said the campaign has gathered a couple hundred signatures by canvassing neighborhoods and attending community events geared toward Trujillo’s mission of empowering working-class voters. She said Trujillo will be at the Evanston Farmers’ Market this weekend to meet with constituents.

“We’re really talking about providing relief for everyday people,” Laatsch said. “We’re working every single day to make sure that we can give a voice to people who have typically felt that they’re not being represented.”

If elected, Trujillo said he would prioritize budget reform, campaign finance and pension reform. He also expressed support for universal health care in Illinois.

As an educator and research fellow at Northwestern as well as a father, Trujillo emphasized education as an important issue. He said public schools funded through property taxes lead to schools in wealthier neighborhoods getting more resources, perpetuating inequality.

Gabel, the incumbent, is running on her record of passing 50 bills during her time in office. She has held the position for eight years and said her role is multifaceted: Her work includes “cutting the red tape” for constituents and writing and passing legislation.

“When you run every two years, you’re always running,” Gabel said. “I spend a lot of time doing what people would normally consider campaign work, and I just consider it being in touch with the district.”

She also highlighted a campaign election reform bill she co-sponsored that aimed to create a matching system for small donors. Though she said she receives some money from corporate donors and political action committees, Gabel said she doesn’t have to raise much money to run her campaign.

The Trujillo campaign has not taken any donations from PACs or corporate donors.

“Our campaign is a really face-to-face campaign,” Trujillo said. “It’s funded by small donors. We don’t take any corporate donations. … It’s really a grassroots campaign.”

Syd Stone contributed reporting.

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