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In the second segment, Democratic Illinois State Senator Iris Martinez discusses the changing role of Latinos in the Illinois General Assembly with WSIU-TV producer and legislative correspondent Jak Tichenor. Martinez became the first Latina elected to the Illinois Senate in 2002 and has represented Chicago's 20th Senate District since 2003. Her election reflects the increasing power of the Latino influence in Springfield where the Legislative Latino Caucus has more than doubled in size since 2000 and now counts 14-members of the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives.
Senator Martinez, who was on the SIU Carbondale campus this fall at the invitation of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, represents an ethnically diverse district which borders Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway and includes both affluent neighborhoods and pockets of urban poverty. Martinez describes how many of the issues that she addresses on behalf of her constituents -- quality education, access to health care, job creation, and crime and punishment -- have much in common with lawmakers from downstate Illinois despite the state's many political fault lines.
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