|Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 13th district
November 6, 2004
|Preceded by||Barack Obama|
September 30, 1964 |
|Residence||Hyde Park, Chicago|
|Alma mater||DePaul University
Illinois Institute of Technology
|Religion||United Church of Christ|
Kwame Raoul (born September 30, 1964) is an American politician and a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate, representing the 13th district since his appointment to fill the seat vacated by Barack Obama in 2004. He is the chair of the Illinois Senate's Redistricting Committee and the Senate's Pension & Investments Committee.
Raoul was born in Chicago to Haitian immigrant parents, Dr. Janin and Marie Therese Raoul. Raoul earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from DePaul University and went on to receive his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Raoul was appointed on November 6, 2004 to fill the state Senate vacancy caused by the resignation of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who had just been elected to the United States Senate.
Since his arrival in Springfield, Raoul has successfully advanced legislation promoting civil justice, early childhood education, domestic violence prevention and political reform. In his first year in the General Assembly, Raoul established a progressive agenda. His work led to the passage of laws expanding access to early voting in Illinois, and the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program and a crack down on the Pay Day loan industry.
Raoul has sponsored a bill that would require that the grants distributed by Illinois State Board of Education to early childhood education and preschool programs to use those funds to improve and expand the quality of services. He has also backed legislation aimed at easing the reintegration of ex-offenders into the community. His legislation allows good conduct credit to be awarded to inmates who earn their high school diplomas or GEDs, as well as inmates who participate in substance abuse programs.
Raoul has championed legislation on criminal justice reform including the recent historic legislation that abolishes the death penalty and legislation creating the Torture Inquiry Commission. He also championed legislation aimed at breaking the code of silence by deterring intimidation of those who cooperate with law enforcement officers.
Raoul has supported efforts to create and retain jobs in the State of Illinois including convention center reforms and a multibillion dollars capital bill. He has been the chief sponsor of legislation to extend the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit to companies in order to retain and create jobs in our state. He recently championed the effort to pass comprehensive workers compensation reform that will save Illinois employers in excess of half a billion dollars.
As chairman of the Senate’s Pension and Investment Committee, Sen. Raoul has fought hard for pension ethics reform and has led efforts to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned financial service firms and ridding the State’s pension systems of corruption. As chairman of the Senate’s Redistricting Committee, Sen. Raoul introduced legislation that created the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect racial and language minorities in the legislative redistricting process. In addition, Raoul serves as Vice-Chair of the Criminal Law Committee and a member of the Judiciary and Financial Institutions Committees.
Raoul was among the candidates Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich considered to fill Obama's Senate seat upon Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election. Raoul withdrew his name from consideration, wary of entering into a quid pro quo with the governor, who later became embroiled in a corruption scandal over his attempt to sell the appointment.
Outside the Senate
Raoul serves as a partner of the law firm of Quarles & Brady with a practice concentrating on employment and labor litigation. Raoul is a former Cook County prosecutor and previously worked as senior counsel for the City Colleges of Chicago. He has also directed volunteer legal clinics in his district. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Cook County Bar Association and the North Central Province of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He has coached Hyde Park Biddy Basketball and has been an AYSO soccer volunteer. He has participated in voter registration campaigns with Rainbow/PUSH and has served as a volunteer Election Day lawyer.
Raoul lives in the Hyde Park/Kenwood area with his wife Kali and their two children, Che and Mizan. They attend the Trinity United Church of Christ. He is also a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity (Theta Zeta chapter) and a member of the Chicago Chapter of 100 Black Men.
- Biography, bills and committees at the 98th Illinois General Assembly
- Kwame Raoul for State Senator
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Senator Kwame Raoul at Illinois Senate Democrats
|Member of the Illinois Senate
from 13th district