Pritzker speaks on policy issues, campaign financing at Celtic Knot campaign event


Alison Albelda/The Daily Northwestern

J.B. Pritzker speaks at the Celtic Knot Tuesday. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate discussed his views on policy issues at the campaign event presented by the Evanston chapter of Action for a Better Tomorrow.

Amelia Langas, Copy Chief

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker spoke at the Celtic Knot on Tuesday, outlining his views on policy issues such as health care and Illinois’ tax system.

The campaign event, presented by the Evanston chapter of Action for a Better Tomorrow, drew a crowd of about 60 people. Pritzker also answered questions from attendees and discussed why he decided to run for governor.

“I grew up in a home where my parents taught me to fight for social and economic justice … and to fight for equality and inclusion,” he said. “It’s why I carry those things with me wherever I go.”

It’s been a little more than two months since Pritzker defeated State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) in the Democratic primaries, and he is now on the path to the general election in November in which he will face Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Rauner is vying for his second term after spending two of his years in office plagued by a budget impasse. Pritzker said he is aware that both he and Rauner are businessmen, but he noted that Rauner also accepted donations from the billionaire Koch family while he did not accept any outside donations.

“This is me working to change policy, this is me working to expand rights, this is me working because I understand the difference that Bruce Rauner doesn’t understand between business and government,” Pritzker said. “You don’t run government like a business.”

Pritzker also said that if he wins the governor seat, he plans to raise the minimum wage, create jobs, legalize marijuana and reform the tax system. He added that he would make health care available and affordable to everybody by supporting the public option, which would create a government-run health insurance agency.

Alisa Kaplan, director of Action for a Better Tomorrow, said the group invited Pritzker to speak because they wanted to hear his views on issues troubling the Democratic Party as well as the state as a whole.

“We asked (Pritzker) here to discuss topics that are uncomfortable for many Illinois Democrats,” Kaplan said. “That includes what many people see as troubling trends for the role of money in politics, … the concentration of power in the hands of a few Democratic Party operatives and the way these things contribute to the alienation and exclusion of many Illinois residents from the democratic process.”

During the Q&A portion of the event, Pritzker said he would get rid of gerrymandering and also does not support public financing of statewide campaigns, only allowing individual donations to such campaigns.

McCormick senior Amaan Badruddin said he attended the event to try to better understand what was going on with the gubernatorial race since he will be staying in Illinois after graduating.

“You hear a lot about what’s going on with these gubernatorial races online but it’s very easy, especially as a college student, to feel a little removed from the process,” Badruddin said. “Being able to actually meet and literally sit up front and ask questions to these guys is incredibly important for the transparency of these kind of campaigns.”

A previous version of this story misstated J.B. Pritzker’s views on public financing of statewide campaigns. He does not support the measure. The Daily regrets the error.

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