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Former Miss America visits area

Erika Harold, right, chats with a couple of Chatsworth at Thursday's Lincoln Day Dinner in Pontiac / EOCI photo.

PONTIAC – Former Miss America Erika Harold, who is also a candidate for Illinois Attorney General, addressed the Livingston County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner in Pontiac Wednesday night.

Harold discussed the importance of taking on public corruption, worker’s compensation reform and ways to make the state more accountable for everyone. Harold experienced harassment when she was younger, forcing her to leave the high school she attended as a teenager.

“That experience of feeling marginalized as if I had no voice made me decide to become an attorney so I could learn to advocate not only for myself but also for others,” Harold explained.

Since the Attorney General is the chief advocate for Illinois residents, Harold said she wants to give people an advocate who fights for their interests – not political interests.

Harold was born and raised in Champaign-Urbana and graduated from the University of Illinois. One of her claims to fame was winning the Miss America pageant, which she entered to help pay for college. Harold was accepted into the Harvard Law School but lacked the means to pay for it.

“I entered the pageant to win scholarship money and I was very fortunate to earn the title of Miss America in 2003 and then to be able to graduate completely debt free from Harvard Law School.”

The Miss America experience was “incredible” to Harold since it not only paid for her education, but also allowed her to work with the USO and promote the military and military families. She also promoted a platform of preventing youth violence and bullying in order to protect students from harassment.

This was dinner number 38 in which Harold served as the keynote speaker, something she appreciates.

“It gives me the opportunity to come into a community to meet the leaders and hear about great things that are happening,” Harold said.

Harold is a declared candidate for Attorney General in the upcoming Illinois Republican primary on March 20. She is running against Gary Grasso, a DuPage County Board member and former mayor of Burr Ridge. The Democratic primary has a crowded field of candidates including Scott Drury, Sharon Fairley, Aaron Goldstein, Renato Mariotti, Pat Quinn, Kwame Raoul, Nancy Rotering and Jesse Ruiz.

The General Election takes place November 6 to elect the replacement for current Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan who is not running for a fifth term. She has served since 2003.

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