At an unveiling of their economic plan Wednesday, gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy and running mate Ra Joy didn’t back down from comments last week about Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushing minorities out of the city.
Both said their economic plan could help stem what they called a “mass exodus” of people leaving both the Chicago and the state but some “ugly and inconvenient” truths, namely structural racism, still must be addressed.
“There are some who suggest race has no place in a political campaign,” Joy said, citing, among other things, racist emails sent by employees in the Chicago Department of Water Management that led to a staff shakeup. “Until race doesn’t play a role in our government agencies, race has a proper role to play in our campaign.”
Kennedy accused Emanuel of being part of a “strategic gentrification plan” last week.
Mayoral Spokesperson Adam Collins said the choice of venue for the Wednesday announcement, at Lacuna Lofts, was one the mayor visited in June to announce the winners of a $1 million grant program for minority entrepreneurs.
“There is real power in investing in job growth and economic development in our neighborhoods, and the success of the Lacuna Loft space is an excellent example of what’s possible when people are more focused on ideas than insults,” Collins said.
The economic plan laid out by the running mates focuses in part on equalizing disparities and problems they saw or heard about when traveling the state.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, they said, has “waged war on labor unions, colleges and universities and small business development centers throughout the state.”
Kennedy said he would create a council of economic advisers for insight on tax and fiscal policy. The economic plan would also focus on supporting community colleges, investing in business incubators to create new jobs and micro-loans to minority and women entrepreneurs.
Diversifying the state’s economic base, not pushing people out, would be in everyone’s best interest, Kennedy said. As for his comments last week, Kennedy said no one is disagreeing with the facts.
“People are living in food and pharmacy deserts. Schools are being closed,” Kennedy said. “Until we deal with those issues and feel comfortable speaking about them, we’ll never find the solutions that are necessary.”