Illini Democrats to hold gubernatorial candidate forum



Portrait of Chris Kennedy.

By Yasmeen Ragab, Staff Writer

The Illini Democrats are hosting a forum for the Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Gregory Hall, Room 112, on Monday, Nov. 6. This date marks exactly one year from the upcoming gubernatorial election in 2018.

The Democratic candidates confirmed to attend are Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman and Chris Kennedy. J.B. Pritzker will not be in attendance.

Hardiman said he plans to speak on issues that outline his platform including increasing the minimum wage; reducing homicide and gun violence statewide; supporting the progressive tax and supporting a woman’s right to choose.

“We would like to be seen as an alternative to the billionaire candidates,” Hardiman said about himself and his running mate, Patricia Avery, who will also be attending the forum.

The Illini Democrats have been planning this event since July, said Max Weiss, sophomore in LAS and communications director of the Illini Democrats.

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    It is important to hold events like this because young people are not necessarily listened to by politicians, Weiss said.

    “By putting on these forums and events, we are making candidates accessible to students so that they are accountable to us,” he said.

    The forum will begin with opening statements by all four candidates followed by their responses to a list of seven questions asked by moderator Tom Kacich, a veteran political reporter for the Champaign News-Gazette.

    “The Illini Democrats board of executives has been working with Tom Kacich to make sure that the questions that are being asked are issues that matter to students,” said Weiss.

    Weiss added that several “hot button” topics will also be addressed, such as immigration policy and college tuition.

    “For our party to be electorally successful … we need to include, engage, elevate and support students to a much more significant degree than we typically have,” said Biss.

    The ten member executive board of the Illini Democrats has worked to put the event together and contact the candidates, Weiss said.

    Weiss said he understands why college students may be unwilling to engage in the political process.

    “(The political process) is complicated and there seems to be a lot of bickering on both sides,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, it comes down to the things that happen in your life … those are all affected by politics.” 

    He added that students at the University should attend this event and engage with the candidates because college students are the future of the state and the country.

    “When you speak at college campuses, you have an opportunity to address the next generation of people that may be interested or involved in our government in many ways,” said Daiber.

    Weiss encourages students to register for the event via the Facebook event page to help the Illini Democrats better coordinate the number of people who will be attending.

    “The only way (democracy) gets upheld is if people participate in it,” Weiss said.

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    Chris Kennedy did not respond for comment by the time of publication.