A day after receiving endorsements from Illinois’ U.S. senators, Democratic primary front-runner J.B. Pritzker joined state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, businessman Chris Kennedy and former CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman for their latest forum, this time focusing on women’s issues Saturday afternoon at the Chicago Temple.
The candidates squared off as Pritzker notched his latest major endorsement, this time from the 100,000-member Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Over 40 groups associated with the Chicago Women Take Action Alliance on Saturday asked the candidates about how they’d address sexual harassment in the statehouse, as well as the economic and social barriers many face. The candidates largely said the answers to women’s issues, as well as curbing sexual harassment, is employing more women and protecting their rights. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, declined their invitations to the forum.
Here are some of the main takeaways on what the candidates said they would do if elected:
On the economy and protecting workers — Pritzker said raising the minimum wage would be something he tackles early on. He also said he supports equal pay for equal work, suggesting an equal rights amendment to the state constitution.
On health care and helping families — Pritzker said he would explore universal health care, and that he would support paid medical leave, universal preschool, and expanded access to affordable childcare.
On pot and other policies — Legalizing marijuana has the green light from Pritzker, who said revenue could help shore up state finances and criminal justice reform. Pritzker said he’s interested in rent-control measures, and that he would expand visa provisions and refugee services.
On the economy and protecting workers — Kennedy also supports raising the minimum wage to $15 as well as a progressive income tax.
On health care and helping families — Kennedy believes there should be a law that mandates paid leave and said he supports better access to full reproductive health care.
On pot and other policies — Kennedy said while he supports legalizing the drug, he’d want there to be studies on its effects first, as well as what impact passing such a measure may have. From there, he would take the recommendation of those doing the study. Invoking the country’s history as a “nation of immigrants,” Kennedy said that he would make sure immigrants have a pathway to citizenship.
On the economy and protecting workers — Biss said he supports raising the minimum wage and pointed to his work with unions in drafting legislation on the matter that Rauner vetoed. Biss said any laws passed should include those who rely on tips and doing away with the “tip credit,” that allows workers who rely on tips to be paid a lower minimum wage than non-tipped workers.
On health care and helping families — He supports universal healthcare, and called not having paid leave is “barbaric.”
On pot and other policies — Biss would also have Illinois residents seeing green. His reasoning is a “matter of justice” — laws in the state aren’t applied equally and passing the measure would be a step forward for criminal justice reform, he said. He also supports pathways to citizenship.
On the economy and protecting workers — Hardiman said he would also raise the minimum wage and pass pay equity measures.
On health care and helping families — Hardiman also supports universal health care and improving access.
On pot and other policies — While he supports legalization, Hardiman said there should be restrictions, especially on access and on age.
Kennedy and Pritzker have announced a series of debates before the Democratic primary in March.