Political advocacy group hosts candidate forum for 25th House District Representatives

Candidate, Anne Marie Miles (standing) answers questions as the other candidates Curtis Tarver II (far left not shown), Flynn Rush, Grace Chin Mckibben, Adrienne Irmer and Ebonie Davis listen, last Thursday, during the People United for Action and United Working Families State Representative for the 25th District Candidates Forum at Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave. – Spencer Bibbs

By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

People United For Action and the United Working Families organization hosted a political candidate forum for six candidates running for the 25th House District, last Thursday, at Kennicott Park Field House, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave.

The 25th House District includes Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, South
Shore, South Chicago and East Side.

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) Democratic Majority Leader, who
currently occupies the post, announced in September that she would not
seek another term.

The event was moderated by JQ Brown of the People United For Action non-profit organization, as the six candidates running for office answered questions from Brown, members of political advocacy groups PUA, United Working Families (UWF), and others in attendance.

“As we know this seat has been occupied a number of years by Barbara Flynn Currie,” Brown said. ” And now that she is not running, it is an interesting time in the neighborhood.”

The six candidates that participated in the forum included Angelique Collins, Ebonie Davis, Adrienne Irmer, Grace Chan McKibben, Anne Marie Miles, Flynn Rush, and Curtis Tarver II.

Candidates, Curtis Tarver II (left) and Anne Marie Miles (right) listen as candidate, Flynn Rush answers questions, last Thursday, during the People United for Action and United Working Families State Representative for the 25th District Candidates Forum at Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave. – Spencer Bibbs

William Calloway, whose signatures were challenged prior to the event, was not in attendance and Ana Guajardo Carrillo, who recently withdrew her name from the ballot on Wednesday, Jan. 9, was also not in attendance.

“We think it’s important that voters hear the candidates’ positions and their policy priorities,” said Jay Travis, a board member of PUA. “Positions particularly that impact low income and working people in the 25th District.”

At the beginning of the forum, each candidate was given the opportunity to share a 90-second introduction about their background and was required to respond to several questions formulated by Brown, the UWF organization, and attendees.

Questions addressed to the candidates included legislative priorities they would champion if elected, whether gambling would help generate revenue in Illinois and whether there should be a Community Benefits Agreement for the Obama Presidential Center.

Adrienne Irmer, a candidate for state representative, spoke about legislative priorities she would champion if elected as state representative of the 25th District.

“As someone with a legislative background, I know that you can’t balance a budget unless you have the revenues to match those outlays,” Irmer said. “And the only way Illinois is going to balance a budget is if we create revenues that are progressive and not on the backs of poor and working-class folks in this state. The first piece of legislation I want to champion is a progressive income tax. We need to alter our constitution in Illinois and make the wealthy pay their fair share.”

Candidate Angelique Collins echoed Irmer’s sentiment.

“The first legislative priority is to make sure we get a budget,” Collins said. “The second thing is to hold the Department of Commerce Economic Opportunity accountable for bringing small businesses into the community. I’m a small business, a struggling small business owner, it’s very important to see the community own small businesses.”

Grace Chan McKibben said she is also in favor of a progressive state income tax and is in strong support of an elective school board.

Organizers hold up a board showing candidates answers to a set of “Yes” or “No” questions. The questions were asked and answered publicly, last Thursday, during the People United for Action and United Working Families State Representative for the 25th District Candidates Forum at Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave. – Spencer Bibbs

“I’m also in favor of a progressive state income tax,” McKibben said. “I’m completely supportive of an elective school board so that we can adequately allocate funding.”

Following Irmer’s, Collins’ and McKibben’s comments, Ebonie Davis responded to a question on the use of gambling as an option for generating revenue in the state of Illinois.

“I believe gambling will bring revenue to the state of Illinois, but with that, there also comes a lot of unintended consequences and unintended problems that can directly impact individuals that may be addicted to gambling.”

Davis believes that gambling could not only bring revenue to the state but should have stiff regulations for casinos and any other small slot machines that may operate in the state of Illinois.

Ann Marie Miles said the idea of the state generating revenue through means of gambling is “a double edge sword.” She said, on the one hand, the revenue would be nice but on the other hand, the mental health problems of addiction to gambling could be an issue.

On the question of the importance of a state representative being free from machine politics and corporate interest in the state of Illinois, candidate Flynn Rush, son of Congressman Bobby Rush, said if elected he will speak truth to power.

“I’m going to Springfield to speak truth to power,” Rush said. “There are two types of politicians, those that want to be served and those that want to serve you the constituents of the 25th District. For too long, those in power have taken the constituents for granted and what I want to do is speak truth to power and be a voice for the voiceless and represent this district to the best of my ability.”

Candidates were also asked about the Obama Presidential Center and the candidate’s position on the community benefits agreement including supporting state funding for the Presidential Center without a community benefits agreement. 

“Yes I’m in favor of funding the Obama Library,” Curtis Tarver II said “The second part of the question whether or not I will be in favor of funding the library without a community benefits agreement? I’m a lawyer by trade. If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.”

During the end of the question and answer session, candidates were required to enter the rapid fire round, which consisted of several questions where candidates could only answer “yes or no” to the questions:

Rent control repeal:
Collins-Yes
Davis-Yes
Irmer-Yes
McKibben-Yes
Miles-Yes
Rush-Yes
Tarver-Yes

Elected school board:
Collins-Yes
Davis-Yes
Irmer-Yes
McKibben-Yes
Miles-Yes
Rush-Yes
Tarver-Yes

$15.00 dollar Minimum Wage:
Collins-Yes
Davis-Yes
Irmer-Yes
McKibben-Yes
Miles-Yes
Rush-Yes
Tarver-Yes

Youth Employment:
Collins-Yes
Davis-Yes
Irmer-Yes
McKibben-Yes
Miles-Yes
Rush-Yes
Tarver-Yes

Financial Transaction Tax:
Collins-Yes
Davis-Yes
Irmer-Yes
McKibben-Yes
Miles-Yes
Rush-Yes
Tarver-No

Graduated Income Tax:
Collins-Yes
Davis-Yes
Irmer-Yes
McKibben-Yes
Miles-Yes
Rush-No
Tarver-Yes

Justice Reform:
Collins-Yes
Davis-Yes
Irmer-Yes
McKibben-Yes
Miles-Yes
Rush-Yes
Tarver-Yes

j.phillips@hpherald.com