February 23, 2018

By Jen Johnson
Digital Director, Represent.Us

Represent.Us members in Illinois just won our biggest victory of the year by passing an Anti-Corruption Resolution in the city of Chicago and all of Cook County.

After nine months of work from Represent.Us members in the Cook County and Chicago Represent.Us chapters, lawmakers unanimously voted to pass the resolution - a recommendation from the local government to adopt a binding Anti-Corruption Act.

With a population of over 5 million people, it's the largest population area that’s passed one yet.

Here's how it happened, and how Represent.Us volunteers had fun along the way.

Winning in a City With a Culture of Corruption

The Cook County chapter launched in April of 2017 and built its leadership team and strategy, growing in size to seven leaders and dozens of chapter members.

Nine months ago, the chapter set its sights on passing an Anti-Corruption Resolution in Chicago and Cook County. It was a big goal for a city with a "culture of corruption" and a list of corruption scandals so brazen they sound like politicians stole them from a 1940's noir film.

But the chapter wasn't about to let a bad Hollywood-esque history stop them. They mentored a newly launched Represent Chicago chapter, and together reached out to Cook County commissioners to set up one-on-one meetings, pitching the Anti-Corruption Resolution to them and rallying support.

The chapter found a champion on the inside in Cook County commissioner Tobolski, and brought the Resolution to the full group of commissioners when the tide turned their way.

What Does Victory Taste Like? Stepping up, Getting Advice, and a Cocktail

At the core of this success story? Leaders rising to the occasion, and taking the time to help each other out.

New chapter leaders from Cook County and Chicago stepped up to push this campaign forward. Steven Herrmann, who helped launch Represent Chicago, got started by deciding he had to do something.

"I've seen politics divide and take control, and I've seen how partisanship can divide families. I wanted to fix that divide."

Once you've made that decision, he says, it's about being present. "Volunteering is about showing up," Steven told a group of Represent.Us volunteers on a victory call.

The chapters leading the charge on this campaign were relatively new, but they didn't have to go it alone. Represent Rockford chapter leaders were there to offer guidance to the chapters while they navigated the resolution process.

One other secret to the chapter's success? Keeping your sense of humor and having fun. Illinois volunteers are celebrating with an original cocktail developed by Yvonne Petterson - the Crook County Corruption Buster.

Crook County Corruption Buster

for 1 drink:
2 oz. mezcal
1 oz. watermelon water (blend watermelon to a liquid, then strain)
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 or 4 mint leaves

What's next? A new chapter kickoff

Leaders in Cook County and Chicago got a hand from experienced volunteers in the Rockford chapter, and now they're ready to mentor new leaders who are kicking off a new chapter on March 4th in DuPage County, Illinois.