By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
As an activist, leader, and Hyde Park resident for over 30 years, Grace Chan McKibben believes she will meet the requirements to be the next State Representative for the 25th House District.
The 25th House District includes Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, South Shore, South Chicago and East Side. State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25), announced in September that she would not seek another term. McKibben is running in the Democratic primary in March.
As a wife and working mother of four, McKibben said she has established herself amongst her peers and throughout her career as someone who has helped build bridges across different communities, is competent and focused, and gets things done.
McKibben sat with the Herald on Tuesday, Jan. 9, to talk politics, policy, and her vision for the 25th District if elected to office.
McKibben was born in Hong Kong and as a teenager she moved to the U.S. after winning an academic scholarship to attend Milton Academy in Massachusetts in 1984. Following her stay in Massachusetts, McKibben graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in Linguistics and Sociology and an MA in Linguistics in 1990. In addition to obtaining her graduate degree at the University of Chicago, McKibben also earned her MBA from Keller School of Management Studies in 2007, which she believes helped enhance her business effectiveness throughout her career.
She formerly served as associate dean of students at the University of Chicago from 1998 to 2003; served in government as chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Employment Security from 2003 to 2005; and is known as a community leader in the Asian community after serving six years as deputy director of the Chinese American Service League from 2009 through 2014.
McKibben also served as a singer and board secretary of the choir Le Cantanti de Chicago, a city-wide choir that rehearses at the Hyde Park Union Church, and is made up of women of many backgrounds and nationalities.
McKibben co-founded the Chinatown Pro Bono Legal Clinic back in 2010 and currently serves on both the national and Illinois boards of the American Civil Liberties Union and serves as Development Director at the Indo-American Center.
McKibben said due to her experience in the social service field over the past decade, it motivated her to run.
In social service where budgets have been cut severely, McKibben said she will address issues such as depleted programs for seniors, immigrants and childcare.
McKibben said she is for an Illinois constitutional amendment changing the current Illinois flat tax system to a more progressive tax system which would allow different income tax rates for different income levels.
McKibben said she supports the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park but only if there is a community based benefits agreement in place prior to any state funding for the project.
“I am a proponent of a community based agreement being in place before state funding could be accessed,” said McKibben about the future Obama Center project. McKibben also said if elected, she would work for more funding for legal services for low-income people. When it comes to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago school Boards, she is in favor of an elected school board as opposed to an appointed one.
McKibben said her work experience with the ACLU encouraged her to protect reproductive rights and racial equality rights for individuals.
“I have great respect for Ms. Currie who has been a strong leader in the Illinois State Legislature,” said Chan McKibben. “We are both board members of the ACLU and are equally committed to fighting for civil rights for all people.”
McKibben also commented on the Madigan Rauner troubles during the interview. “I think that in the current environment, with Governor Rauner’s anti-union and anti-progressive agenda, we have to all work together, in the Democratic party” McKibben said.
McKibben said it is completely unconscionable that the state keeps taking “pension holidays.”
“We have to make a commitment to pay current pension obligations and solve the pension debt,” McKibben said. “I proposed a committee made up of stakeholders to work on a solution that may include moving some future workers to 401K plan. I’m completely in favor of a bipartisan multi-agency task force to look at the pension problem.”
Chan McKibben said she is currently raising funds mostly through individuals and currently her campaign has raised about $23,000.
“Ideally, it will take $100,000 to win the election,” Chan McKibben said. “But our current working budget is $50,000.”