by Hermene Hartman
Ken Dunkin is a Democrat, serving the people of the 5th District as State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly. Dunkin worked as social worker for many years, helping families access needed resources. Most recently, he was the Director of the Robert Taylor Boys and Girls Club of Chicago. For five years, he managed over $2.5 million in program services. He also worked as a consultant for Chicago’s Department of Health and Chicago’s Department on Aging.
You have been a politician since 2002, why is this race so challenging?Every election presents its own challenges. This race is particularly challenging because I have positioned myself as an independent democratic who has chosen to put people before politics. That is a stance that unpopular with the Madigan controlled, democratic machine.
You have talked about “Madigan’s plantation” please explain.The common definition of a plantation is an area tightly controlled by an individual who deems himself superior to everyone else in that area. When the others do not comply with the wishes/demands of the one in control there is generally retribution. In the Democratic caucus, controlled by Speaker Madigan, that fear of retribution has caused all of the members to remain in lockstep with him, often at the detriment of Black people.
Why is President Obama interested in this race?That’s a question you will have to take up with the President.
What is your relationship with Governor Rauner?He is the sitting Governor of the state of Illinois. Our relationship is professional. I’ve simply communicated with him to try to get things done for our community.
Are you considering becoming a Republican?No I am not. I am a life long Democrat. I have always run as a Democrat, served as a Democrat and worked to advance causes in line with Democratic ideals.
Name your top three accomplishments in our political career.This is more chronological than in order of importance.
I created the film tax credit law act which created over 25,000 jobs and over $3 billion in benefits to the state of Illinois. I sponsored and passed the Equal Pay Act which mandates women get the same pay as men. Last year, I got $2 Billion released for day care services, senior assistance
What are your thoughts about the possibility of Chicago State University closing?What are your thoughts about the possibility of Chicago State University closing?
We cannot allow Chicago State to close. Last month, I introduced house bill 6409. The bill provides $160 million of which a sizable portion will be allocated to CSU. This money will allow CSU to remain open so that students can continue to attend class and graduate in the Spring. The governor publically stated he would sign the bill if the legislature passes it.
What can you do to move the State of Illinois forward?To move the state forward, I believe I must continue to look for bipartisan solutions. Our legislature has to start talking about solutions. The bickering and name-calling will not solve anything. We have to put partisan politics to the side and put the people of Illinois first.
What is on your playlist?I am a house head but I love stepping, hip-hop, old school R&B, and even a little Sinatra.
What would you like to accomplish in your next term?We have to pass a budget. I would also like to eliminate the costly red light camera program. Additionally, I would like to increase minority-contracting opportunities in the state of Illinois and reform the criminal justice system.
Why is it important that you cross the aisle?We have a very diverse state. Compromise is necessary if we plan to get anything done. Compromise does not mean sell out; it means, I want to find solutions.
Who are you supporting for President for 2016?The Democratic nomimee.