Erika Harold, candidate for Attorney General
Name: Erika Harold
Office seeking: Illinois Attorney General
City of residence: Urbana
Campaign website: ErikaHarold.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running for Attorney General because our state deserves an advocate who will remove the politics from the Office and place the people’s interests above political interests. I will 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. Additionally, I will provide checks and balances on State government and continue to advocate for reforms of our political process that tip the balance in favor of the people as opposed to the politically-connected. These measures include term limits and redistricting reform to preclude political gerrymandering. I will hold both parties accountable and strive to ensure that every Illinoisan has a fair shot and a fair playing field. Additionally, I will bring an innovative approach to issues of importance to Illinois, including: fighting public corruption, reforming Illinois’ workers’ compensation system, stemming the opioid epidemic, and pursuing criminal justice reform. The people of Illinois deserve an Attorney General who will exercise independent, reform-minded judgment on their behalf, and I will be that Attorney General for all Illinoisans.
What qualifications do you have for this position? I graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007, where I won a Boykin C. Wright Memorial Award for appellate advocacy. Following graduation, I worked in Chicago as an attorney in the litigation groups of Sidley Austin LLP and Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C., representing businesses in complex commercial litigation matters, including civil RICO, class action and fraud disputes. I also advised religious institutions in constitutional matters. In 2013, I returned to my hometown of Urbana, Illinois, and joined the litigation group of Meyer Capel, P.C., where I handle complex commercial and civil litigation cases. Additionally, I was part of the teaching faculty for Harvard Law School’s 2017 and 2018 Trial Advocacy Workshops. The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed me to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality and as a Commissioner on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. Additionally, for the past eleven years, I have served on the national board of directors of Prison Fellowship, which advocates for bipartisan criminal justice reform measures and provides vocational and educational opportunities for inmates to rebuild their lives upon being released. Since 2002, I also have been a national advocate for measures to protect students from harassment. In recognition of my advocacy, I was named one of Fight Crime, Invest in Kids’ “Champions for Children” and received a leadership award from the National Center for Victims of Crime. As someone who has been the victim of harassment and understands the feeling of being powerless and marginalized, I will fight to make sure that every Illinoisan’s interests—regardless of position or background—are vigorously represented.
What changes would you make to the Attorney General’s office and why? The current Attorney General has not used the full measure of the Office’s power to investigate or condemn allegations of public corruption—such as allegations of patronage hiring and improper awarding of government grants—and I would be more proactive in utilizing those powers. I also would work to build stronger relationships between the Attorney General’s Office and the State’s Attorneys, as those relationships are essential to better coordinating statewide efforts to address the opioid epidemic and handling cases where both offices have concurrent jurisdiction. Additionally, to the extent possible, I would attempt to allocate additional resources to the Office of Public Access Counselor to enhance its ability to secure compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act, to diminish the backlog of requests for opinions, and to enable the Office to issue more binding opinions on a greater array of topics. The Attorney General’s Office, however, has been a strong advocate in the consumer protection arena, and I would make sure that Illinois’ consumer protection laws were uniformly and fairly enforced.
How much of a role should the Attorney General’s office take in reviewing/investigating clergy abuse? I support using the current statutory authority of the Attorney General’s Office to investigate allegations of systemic abuse by priests in Illinois dioceses. Additionally, to the extent the General Assembly empowers the Attorney General’s Office to convene a statewide grand jury, I believe such a process should occur (similar to the one recently conducted in Pennsylvania), and the grand jury’s report should detail: (i) the scope of sexual abuse discovered; (ii) any efforts to conceal such abuse or failures to report it to the appropriate authorities or officials; (iii) any criminal charges that fall within the applicable statute of limitations; and (iv) recommendations for legislative reform.
What issues would you focus on as Attorney General? In addition to ensuring that the Office’s statutory responsibilities were being efficiently and effectively fulfilled in a nonpartisan manner, I would prioritize: (i) enhancing the Office’s efforts and investigative tools to combat public corruption; (ii) coordinating statewide efforts to address the opioid epidemic in Illinois; (iii) collaborating with the legislature to draft and enact workers’ compensation and criminal justice reform measures; and (iv) protecting Illinoisans from harassment, including peer-to-peer harassment in schools and sexual harassment within State government.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? I am a strong proponent of term limits and believe statewide constitutional officers should be term-limited to two, four-year terms. I would pledge to serve the people of Illinois as their next Attorney General for no more than two terms.