PUSH Forum For Democratic Governor Hopefuls

Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls appearing at the PUSH forum were (from left): Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, Chris Kennedy, Ameya Pawar, and JB Pritzker. (Photo by Tahman Bradley, WGN-TV News)

The Rainbow/PUSH Convention just hosted a forum for potential candidates looking to become the Democratic governor of Illinois in 2018. It was an opportunity for the public to meet and hear from these people.

They were all impressive in different ways as they answered generic questions and introduced themselves. It was a forum, not a debate, and the moderator was Brandis Freedman from WTTW/TV.

The upcoming governor’s race in 2018 might go down in history as the most expensive ever, with a projected $300 million spent, mostly from the billionaires running.

Before a question was asked, Brandis reported that 84 percent of Illinoisans think that at the moment, Illinois is headed in the wrong direction.

All of the candidates were against vouchers; they said we should fix what is in place; they all agreed that we should stop privatizing education and hold charter schools to a high standard; and they all supported a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Here’s a look at the Democratic candidates:

Daniel Biss is a State Senator from Evanston, from the 9th District. He has served since 2013 and his district covers the North Shore suburbs. He is a math teacher and taught at the University of Chicago. He is a former resident of Hyde Park. Biss says the state has walked away from a broken system and that we need to invest in communities. He says the upcoming race is an election, not an auction. He states we need a transformational government and that the Democratic Party has taken the Black community for granted.

Bob Daiber is from Matteson and is a fourth generation farmer. He has had a career as an educator teaching career and technical classes for the past 28 years. He is a regional superintendent in a multicultural community. He has spent 38 years in education and is an expert on youth mentoring.

He is the only rural person running for governor and believes we should have a progressive tax between one and six percent. He says everybody should pay something. He says the last thing funded in the state budget is education, but that it should be the first.

Tio Hardiman is running for state government for the second time; he was a candidate in 2014 and received 30 percent of the vote downstate. He is the executive director for Cease Fire Violence Interrupters, Inc. He is a community organizer working for peace and social change. He has a 20/20 plan, which he calls a perfect plan. He is the only African American in the race and thinks we should get rid of all of “isms” and “schisms” and let’s straightens it out.

He advocates for the poor and working people and says any one should be governor except the current incumbent Bruce Rauner. He thinks there should be a tax on the Board of Trade; he thinks taxes should be based on income from two to eight percent and that government should have a plan to rebuild cities.

He thinks the Black community has been hustled and is looking for substance. He believes that just because you are a billionaire, does not mean you should be governor. He thinks funds for education should be tied to the transactional tax proposed for the Board of Trade.

Chris Kennedy, of the famous Kennedy political family, said that the PUSH building was a shrine of the Civil Rights community and pointed to a long family relationship with Rev. Jesse Jackson’s family. He says the City of Chicago is shrinking and attacked diversity. He thinks we are pushing people out of the city and that we are educating an “underclass.” He pointed out there is a conflict of interest in the political system, that the system is rigged.

Kennedy says the reason for poor education is we allow politicians to make money off of our property taxes. He points out that 87 percent of high school graduates are not ready for community college. He thinks the race should not be based on the size of your pocketbook, but on the largess of your ideas. He calls for campaign finance reform. He thinks the American Dream should be a civil right and that we should get the dirty money out of politics.

Ameya Pawar is the alderman of the 47th ward and has served since 2011. He says we are electing people who hate government and who are playing the game of divide and rule. It is designed to keep certain people at the bottom fighting over scraps and that it is time to cut a new deal for all of us. To win his aldermanic election, he knocked on every door in his ward to introduce himself. His campaign had limited funds, he was told he could not win because he was underfunded, with no name and he didn’t know the right people.

He came into politics after seeing the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. He saw poverty people being blamed for poverty. He is the son of an immigrant and says the American Dream is at risk. He would expand programs for working families and believes in universal health care. He thinks government should not be run like a business. He says equity does not mean equal. He says we should elect people based on their experiences not their wealth. He says wealth should not be worshiped.

JB Pritzker says his family taught him the pursuit of justice. He has sponsored what he calls big ideas. He has been a national leader in childhood education. He has fed 55,000 schoolchildren. He has supported prisoner with jobs as they re-enter society. He says there is no social justice without economic justice.

He says he believes people should have the ability to prosper and that we need to elect progressives to get a progressive income tax. He believes we should raise the taxes for the wealthy and lower it for those with lower incomes. He believes in expanding health care and creating jobs. He says, Bruce Rauner is trying to buy the state.

Hermene Hartman

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