Illinois Democratic gubernatorial debate takes place at SIU


Mary Newman

Robert Marshall, democratic candidate for the State of Illinois gubernatorial race, holds up a map Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, after interupting candidate Chris Kennedy at the Illinois Demoratic gubernatorial debate in the student center auditorium. 6 candidates from across Illinois are vying for the governor’s seat. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

By Marcus Burton , Staff Writer

Democratic candidates debated Tuesday night in the Student Center for the Illinois Gubernatorial Governor’s Debate.

The lineup for the debate was Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, Chris Kennedy, Robert Marshall, and J.B Pritzker.

Daniel Biss


Daniel Biss, former mathematics professor at the University of Chicago from Evanston and member of the progressive wing party was elected to the Illinois House for the 17th district in 2011.

He was later voted into the Illinois Senate representing the 9th District in 2013.

Biss’s political views rest on free tuition, universal health care, and uplift the middle class and the poor.

“The most powerful thing in the world is a movement of people getting together to transform our society,” Biss said. “The only way to transform is if we lift up ordinary people”

He said it is time to fight for free tuition at public universities and for universal access to child care.

Bob Daiber

Bob Daiber is the first candidate to run from southern Illinois in 20 years and spent his career in education.


For many years Daiber has been the elected regional superintendent of high schools in Madison County.

Dabier was a long time teacher at Triad High School and for one two-year term, president of the Triad Education Association.  

Daiber expressed that southern Illinois is often overshadowed by the counties in upper Illinois.

“I don’t believe that Illinois should be run by just one county,” Daiber said. “Some of us feel we’ve been forgotten.”

One of Daiber’s views rests on the belief that wealthy should pay more than the poor and middle classes. He said he has a tax plan that would give people in the middle class a tax relief.

Public Education’s cost is also a concern of Daiber’s.

“I have two kids that attend Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville. I know how expensive higher education is,” Daiber said. “Funding education will be my first appropriation bill.”

Tio Hardiman

Tio Hardiman is from Chicago and this is his second run for governor.

Hardiman is the executive director and founder for violence Interrupters, NFP, a longtime community organizer for the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood safety, and a member of CeaseFire a program for reducing urban shootings.

He teaches criminal justice at Governor State University and North Park University and has worked with the Humane Society to stop dog fighting in the U.S.

One goal of Hardiman’s is to make sure that everyone is taxed fairly, he said in the debate. 

“Part of my plan includes supporting a progressive tax program that taxes people according to their income tax instead of taxing all the poor and working class people,” Hardiman said.

Hardiman said he supports the House Bill 53, which is a financial transaction tax.

The two tax initiatives, Hardiman said, will bring in 6 million dollars for Illinois. The funds would support programs that boost the economy in southern Illinois.   

Hardiman said, “I will never work as a governor put a tax on your retirement funds, I will never put war tax on working class people and consumers like the gasoline tax.”

Another progressive stance Hardiman took in the debate is on marijuana. He said it could be a huge plus for the state.

“We want to work towards decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana to bring in another large source of revenue for the state,” Hardiman said.

Chris Kennedy

Chris Kennedy from Kenilworth came to Illinois 30 years ago.

He’s the co-founder and chairman of Top Box Foods. He’s also the treasurer of the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation and chair of Joseph P. Kennedy.

Kennedy was the president of Merchandise Mart Properties from 2000 to 2012 and chair of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2015.

Economic development is Kennedy’s first. He believes that strong economic development can become a source of revenue.

“We need to come together once more,” Kennedy said. “Engineers, politicians, environmentalists, business people and change the direction of the state.”

Robert Marshall

Robert Marshall from Burr Ridge Illinois, is a licensed physician at Oak forest hospital, a veteran who served on the Burr Ridge Board of Trustees and the Burr Ridge and Willowbrook Chamber of Commerce.

Marshall is opposed to tax increases and to the United States involvement in wars, especially the war on drugs in Illinois.

“It’s not a war on drugs at this point, it’s a war on people,” Marshall said. “Number one, we need to legalize marijuana throughout the state and decriminalize drugs such as cocaine and morphine and Number two, I oppose tax increases.”

One of Marshall’s suggestions during the debate was his plan to divide Illinois into three new states.

Jay B. Pritzker

Jay B. Pritzker is the co-founder and managing partner of the private investment firm that operates middle market service and industrial companies called the Pritzker Group.

He is also the chairman of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

“There are different concerns in Chicago than there are in Carbondale, but we need a governor who will represent all of them,” Pritzker said.

He believes that Illinois needs to get back to addressing the kitchen table issues that haunt working-class family across the state.

“That means job creating, lowering the cost of healthcare, investing in higher education, and making sure every child in the state, no matter what zip code gets a quality education,” Pritzker said.

Staff writer Marcus Burton can be reached at 

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