Candidate Profile: J.B. Pritzker

Name: J.B. Pritzker

Office seeking: Governor

Party: Democrat

Age: 53

City of residence: Chicago

Campaign website: www.jbpritzker.com

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? The values that I’ve fought for my entire life are under assault by Donald Trump and his partner in Springfield, Bruce Rauner. Illinois’ working families need a leader in Springfield who will fight to expand healthcare, invest in public quality education, and create jobs throughout our state. Instead, Bruce Rauner has created crisis after crisis while failing to stand up to Donald Trump and his bigoted agenda. I’ve spent my life getting big things done for Illinois families and communities in both the public and private sectors. For over 20 years, I’ve been a national advocate for early childhood education, including organizing President Obama’s White House Summit on Early Childhood Education in 2014 and expanding federal school breakfast grants to 230,000 Illinois children in low-income school districts. Five years ago, I founded 1871, a non-profit startup business incubator, which has helped create over 7,000 new jobs in Illinois and was named the leading business incubator in the world. As governor, I will bring people together to move our state forward. I have real plans for Illinois, where we will create jobs throughout the state, expand healthcare coverage, and invest in education from cradle to career.

Would you sign a legislative district map that is heavily gerrymandered in your own party’s favor? Why or why not? We should amend the constitution to create an independent commission to draw legislative maps, and I have supported this effort for years. In the meantime, I would urge Democrats and Republicans to agree to an independent commission to handle creating a new legislative map. That designated body should reflect the gender, racial, and geographic diversity of the state and look to preserve the Voting Rights Act decisions to help ensure that racial and language minorities are fully represented in the electoral process.

What is your position on organized labor and the Janus decision striking down the requirement for public sector workers to pay fair share fees even if they don’t want to? Bruce Rauner relentlessly pursued the special interest “Right to Work” agenda that resulted in the Janus decision, which is intended to undermine bargaining rights and wages for middle class workers. Illinois needs a governor who stands up for collective bargaining, not one who fights to undermine our workers at every turn. I believe in the rights of public sector workers to collectively bargain, and as governor, I will respect and value the public service provided by our state workers.

What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? I am open to new revenue sources like expanding gambling in Illinois. This could attract players from surrounding states in some border locations. I believe that local communities should have input during these discussions and that the state should be mindful of market saturation.

Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? Under Bruce Rauner’s watch, Illinois’ infrastructure has crumbled. From our highways to our railroads and waterways, the recent lack of investment has forced maintenance to pile up. Illinois’ role as the supply chain hub of the nation is a critical component of our economy, and we must maintain our infrastructure to remain the leader. As governor, I will prioritize a comprehensive 21st Century Capital Bill to build the infrastructure we need to restore Illinois’ place as an economic leader. We also must improve farm to market infrastructure by upgrading rural roads, nearly half of which are rated in poor, mediocre, or fair condition. These are important parts of my plan to create jobs throughout Illinois. I will also support and enforce Illinois’ prevailing wage law as we employ Illinoisans on construction projects to upgrade our roads, rail, and water networks, build up our high-speed broadband, and upgrade our lead service lines. Finally, I will work with our federal elected officials of both parties to encourage passage of a federal infrastructure bill to bring much needed federal dollars to Illinois. We must prioritize major transportation projects that have waited far too long.

What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? I have a plan to address the opioid crisis that is ending too many lives and devastating too many families throughout our state. My plan focuses on six key priorities, including a focus on substance use disorder prevention, reducing the risks of prescription opioids, removing barriers to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and recovery, prioritizing treatment over incarceration, ensuring health insurance companies cover addiction treatment fairly, and leveraging federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic. By working together and investing in prevention and treatment instead of incarceration, we can combat the opioid epidemic in Illinois and create real, lasting change.

What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates effect the state’s revenues? Illinois needs to replace its regressive flat income tax with a fair tax, the same type of fair tax that the vast majority of states and the U.S. government have. It will help us balance the budget and improve funding for our education system. I believe that people like me and Bruce Rauner should pay a higher rate than teachers, firefighters, nurses and childcare workers. I will negotiate rates in a bipartisan fashion with the legislature, where we prioritize that those with higher incomes pay a higher rate than those in the middle class. We will also work to lower income taxes on the middle class and those striving to get there, and raise the state’s share of education funding. A fair income tax will help us to lower local property taxes by alleviating the dependency on the regressive property tax system as the predominant source of school funding.

Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? I do not support term limits for elected officials across the state. But as governor, I would sign legislation instituting term limits for legislative leadership positions and support ending the gerrymandering of districts to encourage more competitive elections.