By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
The League of Women Voters of Chicago hosted a forum for candidates running for the 25th House District, Sunday, at Montgomery Place, 5550 South Shore Drive. Throughout the meeting, the six participating candidates running for the Democratic Nomination agreed with each other 99 percent of the time.
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 six candidates on the panel included Angelique Collins, Adrienne Irmer, Grace Chan McKibben, Ann Marie Miles, Flynn Rush, and Curtis Tarver II. The seventh candidate on the ballot William Calloway was not in attendance.
Seniors, public officials and Hyde Park residents attended the event, which was moderated for the League by Diana White, a retiree and former legal aid lawyer.
The candidates were required to respond to several yes or no questions, in addition, to a set of two questions where three candidates answer each question within a 45-second time frame.
In round one of the “yes or no” question session, all six candidates voted a resounding “Yes” in support of universal, government-funded health care, legislation mandating paid maternity and paternity leave for all, and state-funded universal pre-school.
White followed with a question, addressing candidates Tarver, Rush, and Miles on their view “should Illinois State Court judges be appointed or elected and why.”
Tarver said when it comes to his beliefs on whether a judge should be appointed or elected, he was not in favor of appointed judges.
“I am not a huge fan of appointing judges, I think that becomes a little bit too political,” Tarver said. “Honestly, if you’re someone who has been around and kind of pay your dues politically, and can be easily appointed to judge, I don’t think that’s a very fair way to do things. ”
Tarver said he would prefer that judges be elected. He believes that people should have the opportunity to learn more about the attorney, what their background is, and not simply their party or political connections. Candidates Rush and Miles both agreed with Tarver on electing judges.
White’s next question “how to combat the flow of guns that across state lines” was addressed to Irmer, Chan McKibben, and Collins.
“As it relates to decreasing the flow of guns on the streets of Illinois and Chicago, I do believe we need stricter licensure on gun shops that are in Illinois,” Irmer said. “Actually a lot of the guns that end up on the streets of Chicago are bought in gun shops that are [located] in the suburbs of Chicago.”
Irmer said that it is unfortunate that state legislators cannot legislate the flow of guns that come across the border of Indiana. She said if elected, she will leverage her position as a state representative and work with legislatures across the border due to the 25th District boundaries touching the state of Indiana. She feels in a collaborative way, both states are addressing gun violence and flow of dangerous weapons on their streets.
After Irmer’s comments, Chan McKibben shared that it is true that Illinois should have stricter gun laws and that it is important that the state develop anti-gun traffic laws to help prevent guns from coming across the border.
Collins agreed with Chan McKibben’s stance on stricter gun laws.
“Yes I believe that gun violence is a big issue living in the inner city,” Collins said. “But if we control our community and create jobs in our community and [better] education, that helps cut down the violence as well.”
In round two of the “yes or no” question session, all six candidates voted “Yes” in favor of legalizing recreational amounts of marijuana, for voting rights to be automatically restored upon those who are released from prison, and should Illinois ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed amendment to the US Constitution stating that civil rights may not be denied on the basis of one’s sex.
White followed again with an additional set of two questions, asking candidates Chan McKibben, Tarver, and Rush, to share their ideas on how they will make sure public schools in the 25th district will receive adequate funding.
Rush said he will go to Springfield to help address the cause.
“To make sure schools are adequately funded in the 25th District I will go to Springfield and make sure there are mechanism in place where the teachers get superior training and where kids have the supplies and resources they need to be able to excel in school,” Rush said. “[I will also] make sure that money is earmarked in Springfield and goes to those schools within the 25th District.”
On the issues of why charter schools receive public funding and are not subject to the same rules as public schools. How would they make sure that charter schools are more transparent, accountable and equitable as public schools, the questions were addressed to Miles, Irmer, and Collins.
Miles said when charter schools are, ” a hot-button issue.”
She said after talking to many voters, parents really want their children to attend charter schools but she believes that the actual money should be invested in Chicago Public Schools. She believes that charter schools should have the same levels of financial disclosure.
Irmer said there should be a moratorium on any further expansion of charter schools.
“If you receive public funding, you should be held to the same level standards that public schools are,” Irmer said.
On the “yes or no question of changing the structure of the Chicago Board of Education mayoral appointees to an elected school board for Chicago, all six candidates voted yes in favor of an elected school board.
For the support of equal pay for equal work amendment to the Illinois Constitution, all six candidates voted yes.
On the support of a tuition-free system for community colleges and public universities, all candidates voted yes.
When asked if the General Assembly should have term limits, Miles voted yes and the other five candidates voted no, for the issue which divided the panel.