Campaign News

RBHS School Board Member Laura Hruska Files to run for

State Representative District #2

By Bob Skolnik - December 12, 2023

Riverside-Brookfield Landmark

Laura Hruska has never been one to avoid a challenge. But the longtime Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 school board member is taking on a big one in the upcoming year.

Hruska, a longtime resident of Brookfield, is running for state representative, challenging 2nd District incumbent Democrat Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez, who is an assistant majority leader in the Illinois House of Representatives and the chairwoman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Neither Hruska nor Hernandez has a primary opponent, so Hruska is guaranteed to face Hernandez in the November general election.

Hruska knows that she has little chance of winning in the district that includes most of Brookfield north of Shields Avenue and the portion of Riverside south of the railroad tracks and runs east into Berwyn and Cicero. The district is heavily Hispanic and Democratic. Hernandez was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2006 and has only had two Republican opponents. She won her last contested race in 2016 in a landslide, winning approximately 76% of the vote. 

Hruska told the Landmark that Dan Patlak, the director of advocacy for the Illinois Policy Institute, a free market-orientated conservative organization that describes itself as an advocate for taxpayers, asked her if she would be willing to run against Hernandez. 

“He said that in the redistricting of the state many districts are going uncontested and so there’s no dialogue, there’s no debate, there’s not even meaningful conversations on issues that matter,” Hruska said.

Hruska said that she plans to make taxes, especially property taxes, a major issue in her campaign.

“We are drowning in property tax and citizens have no recourse,” Hruska said, noting that she is appealing what she considers an incorrect reassessment of her own home.

Hruska said that many people who are retired can’t afford to live in Illinois because of the high taxes. 

“It’s becoming oppressive,” Hruska said. “You know we have high taxes on utilities, we have the highest shopping (sales) tax. Let’s say you go to Target, I think I’m off $10, nope that’s your tax.”

Hruska, 60, said that she is thinking about whether to stay in Illinois herself when she retires.

“My children are grown and I’m starting to think about where do I spend my last season,” Hruska said. “I’ve got a daughter in Iowa graduating nursing school. Do I relocate and build a new life in Iowa or do I stay where my church, my community, my friends are, family and fight for something better?”

On the RBHS school board, Hruska has a reputation as an independent thinker who marches to the beat of her own drum. Last year, she cast the only vote against the new teachers contract, saying that it was too expensive. In the fall of 2020, she was critical of teachers who opposed returning to in person learning during the COVID pandemic. She has advocated for District 208 to consider the possibility of merging with its feeder districts to cut costs and has pushed for relaxing graduation requirements to allow more students to graduate early. Hruska, who mostly grew up in Berwyn and Cicero, graduated from Morton West High School in three years. She has lived in Brookfield for the past 21 years and has also served on the Brookfield Conservation Commission.

Hruska is in her 17th year on the RBHS school board. She was first elected to the RBHS school board in 2005, lost a race for reelection in 2009, then ran again and won in 2011 and was reelected in 2015, 2019, and 2023. In all her years on the RBHS school board, she has never served as board president or vice-president.

Hruska spent the bulk of her career working in the field of medical education and certification working for professional organizations such as the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Osteopathic Physicians in the areas of testing, evaluation, and continuing education. After she was laid off, she has worked for the past eight years on the overnight shift at UPS, now working in dispatch. She also does some substitute teaching and occasionally drives for Lyft. 

Hruska earned two bachelor’s degrees, one from Moody Bible Institute, where she majored in Jewish studies, and another from UIC, where she majored in psychology and minored in math. She also earned a master’s in educational leadership from UIC.

She said she knows that she has little chance of defeating Hernandez.

“It’s a blue state so I’m not delusional to think that I’m going to change anything,” Hruska said. 

But Hruska said that she is qualified for the job.

“Would I like to win, yeah I would like to win, I think I could do a good job,” Hruska said. “I think I’m invested in my neighborhood, but do I have the deep support than my opponent has. No.”

Hruska can expect little support from the Illinois Republican Party in what looks to be a hopeless campaign, but she hopes that frustration with the status quo can give her traction against an insider like Hernandez.

“The Illinois Republican Party is weak, but people are feeling the weight of the taxes and the Democratic Party is not hearing them,” Hruska said. “It doesn’t have to be me. Maybe somebody starting to challenge them maybe they’ll wake up and do something.”