Kennedy calls Pritzker 'status quo' candidate

Governor candidate speaks at Indivisible Oak Park forum

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Contributing Reporter

Democratic candidate for governor, Chris Kennedy, waited until the last question of the night of Jan. 15 to deliver a direct attack on rival and perceived Democratic frontrunner, J.B. Pritzker.

"If people in this state want the status quo, they've got a champion to protect them in J.B. Pritzker," said Kennedy in an appearance before about 70 people at a meeting of Indivisible Oak Park Area at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn. "If they want somebody that Rauner can beat they've got a candidate in J.B. Pritzker. If they want to change the future of this state they got to go another direction, that's what I propose."

Kennedy said nominating Pritzker would play into the Republican playbook.

"He's the poster child that supports the contention that Republicans use from coast to coast that government is broken and politicians are corrupt, there is nothing you can do about it so don't bother voting," Kennedy said.

He attacked Pritzker for meeting last year with Cicero Village President Larry Dominick, powerful lobbyist Al Ronan and some other suburban politicians. Kennedy cast Pritzker as part of a corrupt status quo.

"He's part of that system," Kennedy said. "He declares that he's going to run and his first move is to go out to Cicero and meet with those guys."

Kennedy attacked Pritzker for buying a home next to his Gold Coast mansion and ripping the toilets out of the home to have it declared uninhabitable and thus reduce the property tax bill on the home.

Kennedy has made attacks on the property tax system, especially in Cook County, a centerpiece of his campaign. He attacked Mike Madigan the powerful speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and chairman of the state Democratic Party for his work as a property tax appeals lawyer.

Madigan is generally viewed as supporting Pritzker in the March 20 primary, even though he has made no endorsement in the governor's race.

Kennedy said that elected officials should not be allowed to work as property tax appeals lawyers.

"I think we should give them a choice: a choice between being a state rep or making millions of dollars a year as a property tax appeals lawyer," Kennedy said.

Kennedy also indirectly attacked rival Daniel Biss, who supports a so-called LaSalle Street tax, a small tax on options trades. he said that because financial trading is now done electronically, trading could be done in such a way to avoid a state tax.

"Anybody who stands before you and says I've got a way to fund the entire state, we're just going to pass a LaSalle Street tax, they're pandering," Kennedy said.

Kennedy, like his rivals, supports a progressive state income tax, which would require an amendment to the state constitution. But he also said that Illinois could follow the practice of Massachusetts and combine a flat income tax with generous credits for low and middle-income workers to have, in practice, a progressive income tax without amending the constitution.

Kennedy said that state funding of schools must be increased, because education is the key to improving job prospects and reinvigorating the state's economy.

"If we give the world highly educated high school and college graduates, the world will give us jobs," Kennedy said.

Kennedy also vowed to protect the pensions of public employees.

"We cannot take away the pensions that people have earned," Kennedy said. "They earned it under a contract. It's a property right. I think we should honor the pensions that people have earned."

Kennedy won over some who came to meeting undecided about whom to support for governor, such as Victoria Ferrarini of Oak Park.

"He felt real to me," said Ferrarini who admitted that she didn't know Kennedy was even running for governor until a friend invited her to the meeting. "It felt as though this is someone who gets it."

Kennedy also impressed Amy Goodman of Oak Park.

"He was articulate, he was progressive; I'm very impressed with him," Goodman said.

But Goodman, who has also seen Pritzker and Biss speak, said she has not yet decided whom to vote for in the Democratic primary.

"I have to really sit down and pick apart what they each said," Goodman said. "But I will say this: I want someone who will win, who will beat Rauner, so I have to look at that part of the equation."

Reader Comments

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Leslie Roberts  

Posted: January 22nd, 2018 6:33 PM

Matt Fruth,: Thank you for the 3 month old poll results which came out long before Biss started running any ads. Bruce Kline: I am glad you can see through the myth of having the most ads means automatic victory. Rauner has been running more ads, but you know that does not guarantee him as the winner in 8.5 more months either.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: January 22nd, 2018 4:13 PM

Tom and Nick: Don't worry, the Great Bezos, the Wizard of Amazon is coming to save us.

Matt Fruth  

Posted: January 22nd, 2018 4:06 PM

Here is a link to the last public polling done on the governor's race: Pritzker 39 Kennedy 15 Biss 6 Poll was paid for by Illinois government/politics news site CapitolFax.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 22nd, 2018 10:08 AM

Add a financial transactions tax, and bingo. NO more financial transactions will occur in Illinois. But overall tax revenues will go down after that business moves to Texas or some other state. That is the kind of genius "stick it" move we do not need.

Nick Polido  

Posted: January 22nd, 2018 7:58 AM

It just amazes me that people attending these meetings seem not concerned at all that we live in one of the highest taxed states in the country and if we can only just stick it the millionaires and billionaires and add financial transaction taxes we solve our crisis. We are hemorrhaging tax payers leaving this state. Quoting two attendees: "He felt real to me," said Ferrarini -"He was articulate, he was progressive; I'm very impressed with him," Goodman said.-feelings aside we have serious issues in this state and these politicians need to understand this instead of their blatant pandering.

Deb Brown  

Posted: January 21st, 2018 11:14 PM

But as far as I know. Pritzker has not made any headway in the polls despite all his spending. That should tell us all something.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: January 21st, 2018 10:46 PM

Well Leslie, if you repeat a falsehood long enough and loud enough it takes on the aura of truth. That is why in American politics, the person who spends the most often times is anointed with the title: "front runner." Clearly, JB has spent the most - by far - to spread his message (and image) far and wide. He has purchased (by far) the most media time - hence the media have an incentive to perpetuate the falsehood as well. And maybe JB has commissioned his "very own polls" as well. JB therefore has implicitly and loudly proclaimed "I am the front runner." And if that still is a falsehood, it is now taken as truth none the less. And whose to say otherwise? You? Good luck trying to convince anyone else.

Leslie Roberts  

Posted: January 21st, 2018 7:42 PM

Why does this article refer to Pritzker as the "front runner"? We have not voted yet, so is there a crystal ball we don't know exists? Who sponsored what poll that anointed him as such. Or is this article just biased reporting? The only front running he has done is spend the most amount of money on annoying TV ads and frequent expensive big glossy postcards as a Democrat to keep up with the GOP Rauner. How about reporting on how much Pritzker contributed to the campaigns of the government incumbents who endorsed him?

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 20th, 2018 7:46 AM

It requires amending the constitution to change the income tax Bruce. But somehow with Kennedy it is ok to game the system to do that, like they did in Massachusetts . So there is protection of the taxpayers if they have a pension but not if they just have regular jobs. Protection based on which voters made a deal with the Democratic party to always vote for them. Nothing progressive about screwing people.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: January 19th, 2018 11:59 PM

Because Tom, "pension property" is protected under the Illinois State Constitution. Our "income property" is not.

Nick A Binotti  

Posted: January 19th, 2018 9:14 AM

Another gubernatorial candidate in favor of a progressive income tax yet fails to provide any progressive rates. Kennedy's pension stance is not surprising since he has to pander to his base. But when he said "We cannot take away the pensions that people have earned," I wonder if he would consider 20% end of career raises (pension spikes) as "earned." Taken from D97's budget back in the day: "...2X20 salary retirement benefits (a contractual commitment to increase retiring certified salaries 20% for each of the last two years of employment) are included with salary budgets."

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: January 19th, 2018 8:29 AM

People who pay for the pensions can leave Illinois. Then changes will have to be made. In Oak Park alone, we have to put aside $10 million a year to cover police and fire pension obligations.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 19th, 2018 7:44 AM

Why is it impossible to change the pension system because pensions are property, but it is OK to take more of people's income. Income is someone's property as well. Oh wait, it depends on whether the person owning the property will vote for Mr. Kennedy or not.

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