Presidential hopeful has local history

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — A candidate who just entered the 2020 presidential race used to call Champaign-Urbana home.

California Senator Kamala Harris announced her intention to run for president. Her entire family has ties to Central Illinois.

A close friend of the family says she’s not surprised about Harris’ announcment. She said Harris’ entire family was destined for success and Central Illinois couldn’t keep them for too long.

But, she remembers clearly the memories she has with Kamala and her mother, Shamala.

“When I saw that she became attorney general of the state of California, I said, ‘Oh my goodness! She’s destined for an even bigger position,’ and then she became Senator.”

Then, Diane Gottheil turned on the TV and saw she’s going for something even bigger.

“I wasn’t surprised and I think she has all the credentials that would make her a wonderful president.”

She says she would know because she’s known Kamala Harris since the 1960s when she was just a little girl living in Champaign-Urbana. Gottheil was close friends with Harris’ mother, Shamala. They bonded over a shared passion for social change.

“She immediately recognized the need for social justice for African-Americans in this country and we fought together for that in those days.”

Gottheil says, like mother, like daughter. Harris specifically wanted to announce her candidacy on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to honor the ideals he, her mother and Gottheil all fought for.

“I’m excited for her candidacy. And, it’s in part, of course, because of her ties to Champaign-Urbana, but it’s largely because I think she represents what’s really wonderful in this country. I hope she continues to rise to the top.”

It may go without saying, but Gottheil says Harris will certainly have her vote. Harris’ father was an economics professor at UIUC for a short time.

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