Kash Jackson, Libertarian nominee for Illinois Governor
Name: Grayson “Kash” Jackson
Office seeking: Governor
City of residence: Antioch
Campaign website: kash2018.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? When I first signed up for military service, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. I served in the Navy for 20 years. I began my political career advocating for parental rights, and am currently fighting to reform state law to protect the rights of parents and children in separation and divorce cases. I also stood with the Veterans for Standing Rock in North Dakota to fight against Constitutional rights violations of their land. The more I began talking with people and hearing their situations and struggles in life, the more I saw the same common theme; government meddling, ineptitude, or corruption. I have been a longtime supporter of local communities wherever I was stationed. I have volunteered at local schools, church youth groups, Habitat for Humanity, and as a reserve sheriff’s deputy in Lake County, Illinois. Running for the highest office in Illinois is just the next step in community service. People should vote for me because I am the only true independent voice in this race who is fighting for their interests and their family’s well-being in Illinois. No political party bosses control me. No big money donors can pressure me into doing things I find unethical or morally unacceptable. My only special interest is you, the hardworking citizens of Illinois, who feel as though they have no voice amidst the loud partisan bickering and fighting that is currently taking place.
Would you sign a legislative district map that is heavily gerrymandered in your own party’s favor? Why or why not? I want to preface this by saying that there is very little danger of a Libertarian ever being in the position to gerrymander a district for their party’s benefit. As a member of a minor party, I find myself in the enjoyable position of not being beholden to the powers that be. Gerrymandering is an unacceptable practice that stacks the odds in favor of one group or another. It destroys the integrity of our elections, and takes away the power of our voices. Districts should be drawn according to population, with no bias or political agenda. Not only would I never sign a map favoring my own party, but I would fight any attempt to manipulate the process in general.
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? I oppose right-to-work laws for the private sector. The government should not interfere in private contracts between employers and unions. If an agreement is signed regarding union membership for company employees, that should not be overridden by state law. However, public sector unions do not have the same balance of power as in the private sector. A private sector employer will only agree to compensation and benefits that are financially sustainable. In the public sector, politicians can be enticed by campaign contributions to increase benefits and make promises that taxpayers cannot afford to fulfill. For this reason, public sector employees should not be required to join or pay dues to a union as a precondition of employment. The Janus decision may have long-term consequences to AFSCME. One of those changes gives public-sector employees the ability to opt out of paying fees to a union to which they don’t belong. A proposed “workaround” that Illinois could enact would be to simply reduce salaries and allocate those funds directly to the unions. This wouldn’t technically violate an employee’s First Amendment rights, but it certainly would circumvent the spirit of the decision. While that money was redirected to a union they do not wish to support, the employee would still experience a pay cut. To honor both the spirit and the letter of this decision would be my goal as Governor. Legislation prohibiting non-union employees from receiving union-negotiated benefits would have my support as a measure to prevent free-riders. If a state employee has opted out of paying union dues, then no money should go to the union for that employee. That employee’s pay would not be cut, nor will I reduce any further cost-of-living increase for that employee in order to send those funds to the union. The idea of taking money from a person regardless of their consent sounds very much like theft. Living in Illinois is expensive enough, and every citizen of this state deserves to choose how to spend every cent they earn.
What is your stance on expanding gambling in Illinois? I support the legalization of gambling, both in brick and mortar buildings as well as online. This is both an increase in personal freedom as well as a source of tax revenue. There are currently six casinos in Illinois. If local municipalities want to open brick and mortar casinos, that decision should be kept at the local level, and can use existing infrastructure like racetracks. Private businesses should be free to open casinos in any manner they choose, and can provide an economic boon to the state through job creation and tax revenue. There is relatively little competition for gambling dollars in online casinos. This is where Illinois should look to expanding gaming. We would benefit from legalizing and taxing online gambling, including fantasy sports and online poker. Online gambling provides entertainment for people in their home, and is successfully regulated in other states. User ages can be validated with current technologies. Sports gambling is popular in Europe and has a large underground market here in Illinois. With the federal ban lifted, Illinois should bring this activity out into the open, tax the winnings, and have those revenues go toward paying down our state debt. Professional online gambling, specifically sports betting, is already popular - it should be legal and taxed. Decisions on casino licenses should be made at local level.
Illinois roads are in disrepair. How would you approach this problem? How would you pay for it? Illinois has a lot of infrastructure that needs upkeep. We should be finding ways to use this infrastructure to raise revenue. One example would be to lease naming rights for infrastructure. There are companies that spend billions of dollars on marketing. Some spend tens of millions of dollars just to lease the name of a stadium that’s mostly only used part of the year. Imagine if companies could lease the naming rights for the Michigan Street Bridge in Chicago, or certain interstates that run through all parts of central and southern Illinois. This can be utilized by both cities and the state itself. It would be mentioned hundreds of times every day by radio stations as they discuss traffic. Companies will pay tens of millions for that kind of exposure. The firm who leases the naming rights will be responsible for upkeep. IDOT would do periodic checks, and if the company fall behind on maintenance, then they will lose their lease early and it will go back out to bid. This will not only fund the bridges and roads, but provide a surplus for road maintenance elsewhere. There are countless other roadways, bridges, etc. that could have such naming rights leased. It would allow for us to maintain a lot of our infrastructure without relying so much on taxes to do it.
What else should be done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? In decades past, lawsuits levied against drug manufacturers did little to nothing to protect Americans against the dangers of opioids. Not only were drug reps downplaying their addictive nature, but physicians were often over-prescribing these medications. However, we must protect those patients who legitimately need their painkillers without demonizing them or forcing them to go to a dangerous black market. Recently, the topic has reached the headlines as over a hundred people die every day from opioid overdose. In Congress, they are working on a plan that will seek non-addictive alternatives as well as changes in the way these drugs are prescribed and monitored. Illinois crafted its own plan in 2017, which includes education, monitoring, and help for those with addiction issues. There is, of course, another way to help those addicted to these dangerous drugs, and that is the legalization of cannabis. Two recent studies show the correlation between the availability of cannabis and the decline in opioid use. Further, the drop in opioid use was greater in states with full legalization. Expanding the availability of Illinois’ medical marijuana, and allowing for its recreational use, is a step that I would seek to further help eliminate tragic and unnecessary opioid related deaths. We can’t just stop with legalization of cannabis, though. We need to make reclassify naloxone as over-the-counter. This drug is used to reverse opioid overdoses. The more available this is, the more lives we can save.
What should Illinois’ income tax system look like? What rates would you want to see? How would those rates effect the state’s revenues? We hear this all the time, and it is becoming a tired cliché: we don’t have a revenue problem in Illinois, we have a spending problem. Raising taxes is the easiest thing for politicians to propose, but it never brings in the projected revenues. Citizens and businesses change their spending habits around the increased costs brought about by those taxes, if they don’t flat out leave the state entirely. We’ve already covered some of the ways I’d like to bring back jobs and revenue to Illinois listed above, like opening up gambling, legalizing cannabis, and allowing the privatization of many state services and leasing of infrastructure. The questions is whether this extra income will result in lower debt, or simply encourage more reckless spending. With regards to taxes themselves, I generally do not support a graduated income tax. Illinois should maintain a fair economic environment that does not penalize success if we ever hope to encourage people and businesses to ever return. I would, however, support a 100 percent income tax cut for families below the poverty line. This would not require an amendment to the Illinois Constitution. Households under the federal poverty level guidelines would receive a personal deduction at 100 percent of the poverty level. This deduction would also be available to households until 200 percent of the poverty level, tapering off so as not to create a “welfare trap.” Cutting taxes for families below the poverty line will let them keep more of their own income, helping them to rise out of poverty and reducing their dependence on welfare.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? Service in a public office should not become a career. Too often, we’ve seen our elected officials serving for astoundingly long terms in office, effectively blocking the introduction of new minds and new ideas, and to solve the problems which many of these career politicians created. They’ve moved from doing what is best for the people of Illinois to what is best for keeping themselves in power. Our state is being held in a stranglehold and bled dry by those who hold this power. It has led to a disenfranchisement of Illinois voters and is part of the reason for the exodus of residents Illinois now faces. I am strongly in favor of term limits. As governor, I would limit myself to two terms just as many other states have in place, and would encourage and support efforts in our state to apply term limits to all branches of our government.