Erika Harold is a household name in Central Illinois. The Urbana High School grad won Miss America. The idea of her representing her country took on new meaning Tuesday. WCIA-3's Jeff Wagner has the story.
She's making her first official run for office. Harold is seeking the republican nomination for the Illinois 13th Congressional District. She made the announcement at the high school where she graduated in front of many of those who knew her before cameras started following her around.
"Whether it was the support of great teachers at Urbana High School, the guidance of outstanding faculty at the University of Illinois or the encouragement of my church family, I would not have developed the strength to take on new challenges."
For Harold, it started with beating the field to be crowned Miss America, then Harvard Law School. But her biggest challenge might be running for a seat in Congress while also juggling her career as an attorney.
"I'm somebody who tends to not get a lot of sleep. I think I had about an hour and a half of sleep last night and several cups of coffee. But, I go into this knowing that it's a full-time endeavor and that, in order to represent this district, you have to be in every part of this district."
Which includes going back to her roots.
"Even until today, she always remembers Salem."
Pastor Claude Shelby remembers Harold as the young girl who loved to sing at Salem Baptist Church.
"I was able to see the raw material grow into the refined person that she is today."
Which is why he wasn't surprised to see her in the spotlight once again. Only now, to serve her country.
"Being the oldest, she was a wonderful leader then and is certainly a wonderful leader now."
Urbana was Harold's first stop on a three-day, 15-town tour of the district. She says meeting voters well before the primary is important to gaining their trust.