Democrat Chris Kennedy Says He Has The Stuff To Lead Illinois | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

Democrat Chris Kennedy Says He Has The Stuff To Lead Illinois

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy, scion of the famous American political family, says Illinois should be economically supported by a highly educated and trained workforce that stays in the state.

Kennedy, who is one of seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the March 20 primary, talked to Morning Shift on Thursday about his strong desire to change Illinois to keep the next generation from migrating to other states and avoid what “would be a disaster for all of us.”

“The issue is around our children, around the next generation,” Kennedy said. “We have four kids, and they’re of an age where they’re going to decide where to live the rest of their life. Our older friends are losing their kids — they’ve left this state — and we have the largest out-migration of the millennial population of any state in America, with the exception of New Jersey.”

Kennedy answered questions from Morning Shift callers on issues ranging from climate change to funding education. Here are some interview highlights.

On climate change

Chris Kennedy: The issues around sustainability in our community have been close to me in my professional life for decades. As a government, there’s a lot that the state of Illinois can do. We can partner with other states, enforce the agreements in the Paris accord, commit to sustainable sources of power for the state — I think we should do that within 10 years, and for the entire state, by 2045.

I’m against fracking and it’s incredible that that question still needs to be asked. I believe that what has occurred is someone has applied for a permit, but I would hope that it is never allowed, and certainly, I would do everything I could to stop it.

On his plan for education

Kennedy: Particularly in Chicago, there is a need for an elected school board for Chicago Public Schools so that we could get the adequate funding that we need. The school system here in Chicago is radically underfunded, and we need a champion to allow us to fully fund our schools and allow more people to become part of the American economy.

To fund them, we really need to move away from the current system, which is based on local property taxes, and move to a progressive income tax at the state level. But at the city and county level, we need the school system and other groups to stand up to [County Assessor] Joe Berrios and file undervaluation complaints when he so dramatically undervalues the properties that are being represented by politically represented lawyers who've given money to his campaigns.

On legalizing marijuana

Kennedy: I believe that we should legalize marijuana. I think we should immediately broaden access to medical marijuana — I think that should be between a doctor and a patient. And we need to finalize our decriminalization process.

But the process by which we go through the legalization of marijuana really matters. I talked to Gov. [John] Hickenlooper about the way they did it in Colorado, and they moved quickly, but they left a few things unaddressed. That turned out to be not so good. For instance, they allowed edible manufacturers to create edibles in the shapes of children’s candy, and children ate it and ended up in the hospital. It didn’t require retailers to tamper-proof containers.

And they haven’t dealt with this other issue, which is sort of unique in that the chemistry around creating edibles now allows us to concentrate THC to a level where you can now overdose from marijuana. And we need to address what the maximum dosage might be. I think we should take the legislation out of the hands of the insiders and have an honest broker — somebody like the University of Illinois — put together a legislative package, and I would support whatever they recommend.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire segment.

Editor’s note: Chicago Public Media receives philanthropic support from The Pritzker Foundation. J.B. Pritzker, who is campaigning for governor in the Democratic Primary, is not involved with the foundation and does not contribute to it.

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