Beverly Miles is running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary against incumbent Gov. JB Pritzker.
She lives on the West Side of Chicago and has spent almost 30 years in the nursing field. She is also a retired U.S. Army major. Miles has been involved with advocacy efforts within her Chicago community and was appointed to the City of Chicago's Advisory Committee on Veteran Affairs in 2020 for a three-year unpaid term.
Windy City Times: Why do you think you are a better choice for governor than [the incumbent]?
Beverly Miles: It was very important for me to come back to my West Garfield community after I retired from the Army in 2014 and not just give back, but to fight back. So I moved back to one of the toughest communities in the city of Chicago, because this is home and where I feel comfortable. I am sick and tired of things that are going on not only in my community, but across the state. So I decided to do something about it and I threw my name in the ring to run for governor.
Illinois comprises 99 percent of the working people and 1 percent of the billionaires. There are three types of people: the poor, rich and wealthyand JB Pritzker fits in a category of the wealthy people. When I realized he was not taking a salary as governor, I began to research and ask questions: Why is he not taking a salary? Is it about the pay? Is it about the people or is it about controlling the power? I think the working-class people should be running the state. I look at our basic humanistic needs and they are totally different from his. I think that if we had some everyday people in elected office, we could probably change the direction of the state.
WCT: I see that you don't have a specific issues page or anything about LGBTQ or HIV/AIDS issues on your campaign website. Do you plan on adding those things to your campaign website in the coming days?
BM: Yes. [Editor's note: As of June 5, the website had not been updated.]
WCT: In what ways will you ensure that the Getting to Zero Illinois 2030 initiative comes to fruition should you win the Democratic primary election?
BM: In the '80s and '90s, when I worked at Cook County Hospital on the HIV and AIDS unit, we really talked about it a lot. There was a lot of education around it. And I think we need to let people know that the HIV/AIDS is still here. We have to keep educating people and really start at a younger age. What age is appropriate? I do not know. But I am open to explore that. Education, resources and services are my primary focus to make this a success.
WCT: A number of LGBTQ-inclusive and reproductive justice bills have been passed in the Illinois state legislature that has been signed into law over the past three plus years. Is there anything else you think needs to get done in terms of LGBTQ and/or HIV/AIDS issues and reproductive rights that have not been addressed through executive actions or the state legislature? Have you looked at what other Democratic controlled states are doing regarding these issues that you want to adopt here in Illinois?
BM: I am really not familiar with the LGBT community and do not know what their needs are but I am open to learning. I have a lot of friends that are in that community and I just see people as people. I have just never treated them different as a patient. I just look at the humanistic needs of people. But as far as understanding bills and knowing bills, I have not explored those avenues yet. I will look to my LGBT friends for guidance on what I can do as governor. This is also the case with regard to reproductive rights. I will look to the experts.
WCT: There is a push among activists and stakeholders to ensure that HB2542 (Illinois Name Change Modernization Act) is passed in either the veto or lame-duck session later this year. Do you support this bill? Why or why not?
BM: Yes. I am open to what makes an individual whole and healthy, and if changing their name is a part of their transition then I support that.
WCT: What are your plans to keep Illinois a safe haven for LGBTQ people and people who can get pregnant other than already passed laws?
BM: LGBT people are a very vulnerable population that in many instances, when I worked in a prison system, they were often taken advantage of. And even in the community that I live in, some of the transgender girls there have been exploited. I would be willing to put some measures in place to ensure that they are protected.
WCT: Were you satisfied with the state government's response to COVID? Is there anything you would have done differently if you were the governor when it began? Where do you see the state's role going forward?
BM: Not really. When I contracted COVID in the early wave while working as a VA nurse we had to take care of patients in the ICU. We did not have the proper PPE equipment, although the hospital leadership was telling the media we did have it, but we actually did not have it. So I got sick and I almost died and I was off work for a year. I am dealing with the long haul syndrome from COVID. The VA does fall under the federal government but the state also played a role especially with the LaSalle Homes where a lot of veterans died due to COVID.
I would have got the subject matter experts and a team of people to do it, to do a full inventory of all of the health care facilities, nursing homes, out day outpatient surgery clinics to make sure they had what they need. From what we were told, it was just shortages all the way around. Everybody was just trying to improvise. I would have done a full audit of all of our hospitals around the state to make sure they hat what they needed. And if they did not, try to put a rush on getting them what they needed in order to take care of their patients safely.
As for what to do going forward, I see myself definitely following the science and the CDC guidelines. I would not do blanket restrictions across the state. There would be hot and cold areas and with this new wave coming we are seeing an influx of COVID patients in the hospitals that would also have to factor into my decision-making process.
WCT: If you were governor now what would you be doing with the surplus money that is different than Gov. Pritzker's fiscal year 2023 budget allocations, especially when it comes to helping marginalized communities and/or people who can get pregnant?
BM: With the surplus money, I would be calling every stakeholder from every community to the table and see what they need. We all know we have an increase in violence and that COVID is still out of control so those needs need to be met. I would definitely make sure those resources are given to those communities most in need and leave it to the stakeholders in the community to choose what they want to spend that money on.
Money needs to come to marginalized communities that are not just the crumbs so we can sustain our own communities. I would review the entire budget to make sure these funds are allocated properly so people do not have to choose between their medicine or electric bill.
WCT: What is your overall message to every Illinois voter?
BM: We have got to stop trusting these billionaires with this ideology that they are here for us. It just appears that everybody is getting wealthy and the marginalized communities are the same or getting worse. So in order for us to do something different, we have to change our mindset and we have to put different people in office.
See miles4governor.com .
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.