Chris Kennedy: The Governor Illinois Needs


By Zubair Muhammad, Staff Contributor

This is the first in a series of opinion pieces by students endorsing gubernatorial candidates ahead of the 2018 primary elections. 

The Republican and Democratic primaries will occur on Tues., March 20 to select the candidates for the Illinois gubernatorial election next November. Needless to say, the Democratic primary ticket is booked with many individuals running for the position, among them venture capitalist JB Pritzker, businessman Chris Kennedy, and state senator Daniel Biss.

One of the most pressing issues facing Illinois currently is the budget. Illinois has compiled $14.6 billion in unpaid bills. It’s running a deficit of six billion, and its pension liability has soared to $130 billion.

In addition, citizens are often burdened with excessive taxes, such as the sweetened beverage tax from last fall. Furthermore, the state’s education system fails to fairly fund schools in lower income areas.

Although all the candidates are capable men, Chris Kennedy is the governor our state not only needs, but deserves.

According to the Chicago Tribune, school districts with the greatest number of students living in poverty receive up to nearly 20% less local funding than those in affluent neighborhoods. Basically, kids and teens in the struggling areas of the state are receiving an inferior education.

Kennedy’s agenda will place importance on statewide education, fair taxing, and gun control.

Having previously served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the University of Illinois, Kennedy realizes the importance of education and it’s role in achieving success. His plans for fulfilling these goals can be found on his campaign website.

“A Kennedy/Joy administration will ensure equitable and adequate funding for schools, a reinvestment in public neighborhood schools, support for our teachers, smaller class sizes, better school facilities, a new focus on trauma care and social emotional learning for high-need communities, and a cradle-to-career approach that will guide students, their families, and their communities toward futures filled with opportunity and economic advancement,” the website reads.

Alongside his goal of ensuring every child gets a high quality education, Kennedy supports a progressive income tax that would levy taxes on the wealthy, making them pay their fair share in taxes.

Most importantly, Kennedy has made reducing gun violence a key initiative in his campaign. Although other candidates, like Biss and Pritzker, propose enacting a Gun Licensing Bill to end gun violence, no one could understand the pain inflicted by gun violence more than Kennedy. As a member of the infamous Kennedy family, Kennedy’s father, U.S. senator Robert Kennedy was killed in 1968, and his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, was killed in 1963. Chris Kennedy was only a child when his family members were assassinated by gunshot wounds.

Kennedy’s running mate for lieutenant governor, Ra Joy, has been inflicted by gun violence as well; his 23-year-old son was shot near his university campus in Chicago.

To combat gun violence, Kennedy has laid out an eight point plan aimed at reducing gun violence, which includes increased mental health services to those impacted by gun violence, supporting community-based violence-disruption programs, and strengthening the state’s gun laws.

Because of his promise to stand up for important issues, Kennedy has secured many significant endorsements including from the Daily Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and U.S. Representatives Bobby Rush and Danny Davis.

Although I can respect Pritzker’s dedication, I don’t trust a billionaire who has spent $63 million of his own money in the race to fight for the working class and struggling people of our state. I also see no reason in electing Biss, a so called “progressive” and “middle-class governor” that had previously supported a law in the legislature in 2013 at a state senator that would have taxed pensions and retirement incomes.

Needless to say, all the candidates running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination stand for important social issues in their own rights, but what a struggling state like ours needs is someone with a legitimate plan to tackle important issues like reforming the property tax system, ensuring high quality education to everyone in the state, decreasing gun violence, promoting economic growth, and emphasizing mental health. That’s why I believe Chris Kennedy stands out as the best viable governor for Illinois.