Kennedy, former Board of Trustees chairman, to run for Illinois governorship

By Megan Jones , Staff Writer


Former University Board of Trustees chairman Chris Kennedy announced he is running for governor on Wednesday under the Democratic ticket for 2018.

Kennedy, 53,  is the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy. He did not seek reappointment to serve on the Board of Trustees on Jan. 19, 2015, ending his six-year term. He was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn and left before Gov. Bruce Rauner took over.

Kennedy released a message to his supporters Wednesday announcing his election bid. He is a businessman in Chicago and talked extensively about his belief that the state needs a fundamental change, citing the current state budget impasse. Rauner and the state legislature have been in a standoff for 19 months over approving the state’s budget.

“I believe that compromise is not surrender,” he said in a video to his supporters. “That’s how I think our state should work.”

He came to Chicago in the 1980’s and began running Top Box Foods with his wife, a hunger relief non-profit organization. He later became the chairman of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

In his video, he said Illinois needs to retain its students who will create new companies, hire new employees, pay taxes and educate a new generation ready to begin the cycle again. The video opens by showing some of the impacts of the state budget impasse, including services being cut and workers being laid off.

“I am running for governor because the state is headed in the wrong direction. I believe in working with others, not telling them what to do,” he said.

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar has also filed paperwork to enter the governor’s race. Rauner said he plans to seek re-election.

[email protected]