Who are you?
I was born and raised in the 7th Ward and my parents are Janet Wilkins and the late Joseph “J.D.” Standfield. I own my home outright and now I am raising my family in the same community that gave me so much love, motivation, support and preparedness to become the woman that I am today. I was an honors student at St. Paul Lutheran and Rockford Lutheran High School. I furthered my education at Grambling State University, where I received my B.A. in Mass Communications. I am now the Resource Development and Community Engagement Manager for HomeStart, a non-profit home counseling agency here in Rockford. I oversee the Neighborhood Grant Program through the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and the Resident Leadership Program, where it is our mission to create vibrant, healthy communities by connecting people and families to beneficial, affordable housing resources and by leading community based solutions.
What position are you running for?
Rockford City Council Ward 7
Why are you running?
I love Rockford and I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. There is great potential in our community and it’s time we expose it. I am working with other community leaders to help foster concrete leadership skills, create space for people to connect with each other and increase their sense of being leaders of change. It’s time my generation step up while we have experienced members here to help when needed in order to make effective change and pass the torch to the generations coming up after us.
What led you to this point in Rockford and your career?
My mother has always instilled in me the importance of giving back and being active in my community. I am active in the West Gate, Signal Hill and Jeremiah Development Neighborhood Associations where I help produce newsletters for residents. I am the Outreach Co-Chair for Ignite Rockford, Association of Fundraising Professionals IDEA (Diversity) Co-Chair and I enjoy volunteering for the Poor People’s Campaign and serving as co-host for Soar Assembly Radio. I do a lot of work with young people in our community. I am the advisor for the NAACP College/Youth Rockford Branch and I volunteer as a mentor for Youth for Christ and Comprehensive Community Solutions (YouthBuild). Through my community service, I have come to realize we are all fighting for something. We need people in these positions that care about the people, and I am that person. I can’t possibly do it alone; therefore, I am going even further to support our local economy with good jobs by using my experience in the nonprofit sector to connect people to programs and jobs that will utilize their current skills or train them in new ones.
What do you see as major issues in your ward?
From talking with so many residents in the ward, some of the main issues affecting us as a whole are Blight, Crime, Roads/Sidewalks, Education, Systemic Racism, Job Opportunity, Emergency Care Accessibility, and lack of local Amenities (Grocery Stores with Fresh Produce, Dine-In Restaurants, etc.)
What do you hope to accomplish if you win?
I want to bring the residents of Ward 7 together so we can tackle the Blight, Crime, Roads/Sidewalks, Education, Systemic Racism, Job Opportunity, Emergency Care Accessibility, and lack of local Amenities. I want to increase opportunity and build wealth in our community by creating and supporting locally owned businesses who invest back into our neighborhood. I want to make it easier to travel around our community by working to better fund infrastructure like roads and sidewalks. I also want to make sure that people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community are afforded equal opportunity in their day to day lives.
Janessa Wilkins, Candidate for Rockford City Council Ward 7