First lady Diana Rauner focuses on her husband, IL children

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Diana Rauner is focusing on her husband and children in the state of Illinois in her role as first lady. (WLS)

"It's an incredible honor. It's an incredible privilege," Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner said of her new role.

She grew up in suburban New York, worked on Wall Street and then volunteered with children. Even after just a month on the job, she's already at ease inside the governor's office. She admitted she doesn't yet know her way around Springfield or the Capitol building, but is focused on her priorities: her husband, Gov. Bruce Rauner; and Illinois' children.

"Keeping Bruce together, body and soul. That's number one. Certainly advocating for Illinois children is, I think, the most important thing I can do for the state," Rauner said.

Rauner plans to continue serving as president of Ounce of Prevention, a nonprofit advocate for early childhood education program. The group receives state funding.

"I'm a volunteer, an unpaid employee and the Ounce has received and performed exemplary on state contracts for 30 something years. We'll continue to do that work and compete openly and fairly for state contracts if that needs to be the case. So I don't see a conflict," she said.

Her biggest challenge? Finding time with her husband.

"Bruce and I have been in different cities a lot of the time. He's been in Springfield pretty much full time and I'm back and forth," she said.

The two have a home in the Chicago suburbs. But on this day, both Bruce and Diana are in Springfield, where they spoke to students before watching the movie "Selma."

"I really truly believe that education is the civil rights issue of our time. It is the driver of economic growth and it's really what makes our country great," she said.

Rauner is also helping to restore the 160-year-old executive mansion where they live when in Springfield.

"It's a big project because, unfortunately, that building has been left really to rot. Sadly, the roof is leaking. The bricks are falling down. The basement is flooded," she said.

The Rauners plan to pay for the start the restoration of the governor's mansion this summer by raising private funds.

Gov. Rauner will make his first budget address this week. Diana has seen part of it, but isn't revealing any details.

"It will, I think, really lay out who he is and what he stands for," she said.

Diana is a Democrat. Her husband is a Republican. She takes piano lessons, which she calls her occupational therapy and her favorite guilty pleasure food is potato chips.

Related Topics:
politicsBruce RaunerSpringfield
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