Dawn Clark Netsch

Rachel Otwell / WUIS / NPR Illinois

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, as well as the 2016 election, have sparked renewed passion for electing women to office in Illinois.

It's a cold, slushy weeknight as about 50 people pour into the community room of a Springfield grocery store on the west end of town. They're making protest signs for the second annual Women's March. Two friends sit in a corner using cutout letters and permanent marker. Business owner Katie Dobron is writing, "Vote women in."

The first woman elected to statewide office in Illinois has died. Dawn Clark Netsch was 86. In January, she revealed she had ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.