Name: Erika Harold
Office seeking: Attorney General
City of residence: Urbana
Campaign website: www.erikaharold.com
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? As someone who has been the victim of harassment and understands the feeling of being powerless and marginalized, I am running for Attorney General to ensure that every Illinoisan-regardless of position or background-has an advocate who is fiercely fighting for his or her interests, not political interests. I will fight to combat public corruption, enhance governmental accountability and transparency, reform the workers compensation and criminal justice systems, and stem the opioid epidemic's tide. I should be nominated because my background and experience uniquely equip me to win the general election and-more importantly-make the biggest impact for Illinoisans through the Attorney General's Office. I have represented businesses in complex commercial litigation cases, advised religious institutions in matters involving constitutional protections, and helped resolve disputes involving large trusts and estates. I also serve on the national board of directors of Prison Fellowship, the nation's largest outreach to inmates and their families, and am a recognized leader in the fight to protect children from harassment in schools. I am an experienced and effective advocate and, as Attorney General, would fight to protect the people, not the powerful.
What do you view the role of the attorney general's office to be in terms of law enforcement? The Attorney General's responsibility is to enforce the law, without respect to the Attorney General's personal views on such law, and not substitute her judgment for that of the other co-equal branches of government. Accordingly, if a law's constitutionality is challenged in court, then the Attorney General is obligated to defend the constitutionality of the law, even if she would have personally voted against it.
How would you view the relationship between the attorney general's office and state's attorneys in each county? The Attorney General Office's and the State's Attorneys have shared jurisdiction over various issues impacting Illinoisans, and it is therefore important for the Attorney General's Office to have a constructive relationship with the State's Attorneys. This will allow for a more strategic use of personnel and resources and a more collaborative approach to issues such as combating the opioid epidemic, fighting public corruption, and the Attorney General's handling of county-specific cases when conflict of interest issues arise. Various State's Attorneys have advised me that their respective offices do not have the type of collaborative relationships with the Attorney General's Office necessary to fully effectuate both offices' mandates. Accordingly, I would work to strengthen those relationships by scheduling meetings with groups of State's Attorneys and seeking their input regarding ways in which both offices can better serve the people of Illinois.
What is the most important issue facing the attorney general's office? How would you approach it? The most important issue facing the Attorney General's Office is the lack of transparency and accountability in Illinois government. I would approach this issue by utilizing the Office's power to investigate allegations of public corruption. Additionally, I would advocate for the expansion of the Office's investigative tools, such as subpoena and grand jury powers, to enhance the Attorney General's ability to fight public corruption. Furthermore, I would try to ensure that the Office of Public Access Counselor-which is tasked with providing advice regarding the interpretation and implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act-has sufficient resources and personnel. I would seek to maintain the Office's independence by establishing a clear set of guidelines for determining when the Office took action, with such criteria to include: (i) Whether a constitutional or statutory violation was involved; (ii) Whether another governmental entity was better situated to initiate the action; and (iii) whether Illinoisan's interests were directly at issue. The goal would be to ensure that independent decision-making was occurring, the Attorney General's Office was involved in legal issues-as opposed to political issues, and the principles of separation of powers and federalism were being upheld.
What other issues would you focus the attorney general's office on? In addition to combating public corruption and working to enhance governmental transparency and accountability, I would prioritize: (i) coordinating statewide efforts to address the opioid epidemic in Illinois; (ii) collaborating with the legislature to draft and enact workers' compensation and criminal justice reform measures; and (iii) protecting Illinoisans from harassment, including peer-to-peer harassment in schools and sexual harassment within state government and the workforce at large. I also would work to foster a culture of nonpartisanship throughout the Office by setting forth rubrics for decision-making that are based on the rule of law, a balancing of the interests of all Illinoisans, and an independence from other branches of government, both at the state and federal level.
What are your views on the legalization of marijuana debate? Relevant stakeholders should begin the process of methodically analyzing and negotiating appropriate safeguards and regulatory frameworks for the legalization of marijuana for adult use in Illinois. This process should be approached with particular attention paid to protecting minors, providing sufficient mental health and substance abuse services, existing federal law and directives, and providing for proper testing protocol and equipment in marijuana-related automobile accidents. If approached in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, legalization should enable law enforcement officials to redirect their time and resources towards addressing more critical issues (such as the opioid epidemic), expand Illinois' tax base, and decrease the number of people serving sentences for non-violent, marijuana-related offenses.