On January 15, 2018, Community Renewal Society (CRS) held a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum as part of our annual Martin Luther King Faith in Action Assembly. All candidates for Governor were invited to participate.
Thank you to Daniel Biss (D), Bob Daiber (D), Tio Hardiman (D), Jeanne Ives (R), Chris Kennedy (D), and JB Pritzker (D) for participating in our forum.
We asked the candidates about issues that are most important to our communities and align with CRS’ 2018 Platform for Renewal: police accountability, restoring opportunities and justice reform, community development (affordable housing and good jobs), and a just economy for safe communities. See their responses below.
Currently, approximately 60% of police misconduct complaints in Chicago are not investigated because of a state law that requires a sworn affidavit to be filed along with the complaint. In light of the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2017 report documenting patterns and practices of unconstitutional policing and excessive use of force, it is understandable that many individuals would be afraid to sign a sworn affidavit.
Yes or no: Would you support state legislation to remove the sworn affidavit requirement for filing complaints of police misconduct?
Restoring Opportunities & Justice Reform
The National Employment Law Project estimates about 45% of Illinois adults have a criminal record. Last year, we worked as part of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI) to reduce barriers for people with records by passing HB 2373 which expands the sealing of criminal records. This is now law. While this was an important step to increase opportunities, reduce recidivism, and strengthen our communities, individuals are now being denied the opportunity to seal their records because of an inability to pay unrelated fees and fines. The Illinois Statutory Court Fee Task Force’s 2016 report found that fines and fees are not directly related to the alleged criminal activity, and impose severe and disproportionate impacts on low- and moderate-income Illinois residents.
Yes or no: Would you support legislation to improve the process to seal criminal records by ensuring that outstanding fines and fees do not prohibit individuals from petitioning the court to seal their record?
Community Development -- Housing & Jobs
Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) are legally binding contracts, negotiated with the community, that guarantee benefits. They have been used in major developments across the country to protect community interests. In our cash strapped state, lawmakers have discussed the possibility of providing state funding up to $100 million dollars to assist the Obama Presidential Library, without any guaranteed benefits for local residents. An Obama Library CBA would show the world how you can do equitable and accountable development without displacement by building supportive and accountable relationships with the community. The Obama Library South Side CBA Coalition is asking the Obama Foundation, the City of Chicago, and the University of Chicago to sign a CBA for Obama-Center-related developments.
Yes or no: Would you oppose state funding for the Obama Presidential Library Foundation if the Foundation, City of Chicago, and University of Chicago do not commit to signing a Community Benefits Agreement with community groups?
Just Economy for Safe Communities
In order to keep our communities safe, we need adequate investment from our state government in programs, such as violence prevention, mental health, social services, and more. The budget crisis has devastated many programs our communities need and it is no surprise that violence has increased as our social safety net has been destabilized. Illinois is one of only eight states in the U.S. that has a flat, regressive income tax structure, and is one of only four states that constitutionally requires a flat income tax. A Fair Tax, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes, is needed to bring about equity in Illinois and long-term, structural reform that produces stable and sustainable revenues and finally gets our fiscal house in order. Illinois needs a fair tax to keep our communities safe.
Yes or no: Will you support increasing revenues for vital programs and services by changing our constitution and enacting a fair tax, with lower tax rates for lower incomes and higher tax rates for higher incomes, in Illinois?
The candidates also gave opening and closing statements, as well as answered open questions about their proposals as Governor: to improve police accountability; enact criminal justice and sentencing reform; increase safe, affordable housing opportunities and living wage jobs; and address gun violence.
View a Facebook Live Video of the entire Governor’s Candidate Forum.
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