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Upholding the Promise of Government

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This week, for the first time in a long time, I didn't wake up Monday morning to scan the Web and the papers and the TV stations and blogs for the most interesting Chicago news stories to summarize and analyze. I didn't call sources for the latest story I was covering. Last Friday, I tendered my resignation as the Associate Editor at Huffington Post Chicago.

My mornings look a little different now, as I've taken on a new -- but not at all unrelated -- endeavor. I have officially announced my candidacy for state representative for Illinois's 39th District here in Chicago.

I decided to run for state representative to stand with and for my many neighbors who are suffering through the agony of foreclosure, at the hands of an often-indifferent bank. I'm running to be a voice for better public schools, with teachers who are respected and supported, not vilified. I'm running so we can have safer streets and stronger neighborhoods and equal rights for all our families -- all issues that I reported on extensively in my time at The Huffington Post.

But fundamentally, I'm running to fulfill one promise: the promise of government.

After all, government isn't a bunch of people sitting under a dome. It's a contract that we all make together: to take care of the needy, to protect the vulnerable, and to help people in all walks of life find safety and prosperity and pursue happiness.

That promise is why we provide healthcare for the elderly and the sick. It's why we offer incentives to small businesses, and why we fund public schools and universities, and why we have libraries and parks and museums. And when we elect representatives, we should elect them to uphold that promise.

Too often, though, our elected officials default on that promise for the sake of protecting special interests, or lining their own pockets or the pockets of their families and friends. In Illinois, this trust has been breached embarrassingly often -- half of our governors since the 1970s have wound up in jail for corruption.

When our state is willing to allow homeless people to freeze to death under bridges, but unwilling to levy any but the lightest tax on our millionaires and billionaires, we know something's wrong. When it slashes budgets for mental health services and school buses, but gives huge tax breaks to mega-corporations, we know that a promise has been broken.

Every day, as I talk to people in the 39th District, I'm reminded that we all share the same concerns about the way things look these days, and what the future might hold. It's those shared concerns that I will advocate for every day for the seven months between now and the Democratic primary, and for the next seven months until the general election, and for every day of my tenure as state representative.

Whether you live in the district, or elsewhere in Chicago, or anywhere, really -- if you believe in the potential of ordinary people to stand up to big money and big corruption and take back our voice in government, please, join us.

Together, through this election, we can deliver a message to the halls of power: we made a promise, and we demand that you keep it.

To join Will's campaign, visit his website, or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.