The Daily Northwestern

Editorial: For governor, vote Biss. More importantly, just vote.

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We all know it’s true. Young Americans vote at lower rates than older people.

At one of the country’s most civically engaged campuses, it’s easy to scoff at the idea of complicity, as we constantly hear Northwestern boast of successful voter registration rates consistently upwards of 96 percent. But that doesn’t always reflect turnout at the polls — and admittedly, campus tends to become particularly dormant during local elections and primaries. The race for Illinois governor has dominated headlines for months, but events surrounding the race have been sparse on campus.

Rob Donahue, associate director of the Center for Civic Engagement, told The Daily last month that it is a “particularly pivotal time” for youth voters to think about the impact they can make in elections. To invest in the future of issues affecting Northwestern students, from student loan debt to jobs, he says it’s essential to participate in democracy.

We couldn’t agree more. The less students vote in elections, the less officials reflect our needs in policy. We don’t expect you to leave the polls overjoyed on March 20, but you can — at the very least — have a say in who can influence property taxes if you stay in Illinois after graduation. The governor can affect gun control change. The governor can impact the future of your student loans and the state budget, which, in part, funds financial aid grants for college students across the state.

The future of Illinois, and its young people, is at stake in the upcoming gubernatorial election. So don’t sit out.

For the Republicans, incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner is attempting to fend off state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). It has been a race marked by divisiveness and racist discourse. In moves denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike, Ives has attacked and mocked many minority groups. In all her Trumpian rhetoric, she is a reflection of the same hateful politics that have divided the country. As for Rauner, we only need look at the status quo to see that his governorship has done little, if anything, to address Illinois’ social and economic issues. Time and time again, he has proven he is not fit for office. The race is truly one for the lesser of two evils, and while we encourage critical election engagement, we believe neither Rauner nor Ives is right for the future of Illinois.

Among the six Democratic candidates, businessmen J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy are leading the gubernatorial race along with state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston). The race has been marked by debates over the influence of powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan, the property tax system and the corruption prevalent in Illinois politics.

Pritzker, who sits at the top of the polls and is far outspending his opponents, is the wrong choice for Illinois: The damning wiretapped phone call between him and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich starkly illustrate that Pritzker’s insider politics are firmly on the wrong side of ethical lines. In the conversation, Pritzker and Blagojevich chat about who should fill Barack Obama’s recently-vacated Senate seat, and at one point, use racialized language. Pritzker is not the guy to take corruption out of Illinois’ politics.

As for Kennedy, he’s running on an admirable platform of gun control and economic equality. But, he has run a poor campaign that has largely featured him railing against Pritzker and Rauner while offering few of his own solutions to the state’s problems.

Biss, a self-described “man of the middle class,” is running on a platform including universal health care and a progressive income tax rate. Having spent years teaching math at the University of Chicago, Biss comes from an academic background and prioritizes the quality and affordability of higher education. Since being elected to the General Assembly, Biss has sponsored bills intended to help Illinois address the gender wage gap, unfair student loan practices and the unequal campaign finance system.

Biss and his platform prioritize those most marginalized in Illinois. He is the best choice for young people, students and Evanston residents. He’s not self-funded and doesn’t rely on mega-donors for support. These are admirable qualities we support. When you go vote next week, vote Biss.

This piece represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of The Daily Northwestern. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members or Editorial Board members of The Daily Northwestern.