His opponents in the 2018 race for governor include two billionaires and a multimillionaire, but Democrat Bob Daiber said his status as a regular, hardworking guy makes him uniquely suited to carry downstate Illinois and the state as a whole.
“I realize this will be a very difficult, winding road for myself because I’m a candidate of less financial wherewithal,” Dabier said Tuesday on WBEZ’s Morning Shift. “So it’s everyday people along that path that are the good Samaritans helping me make this journey successful.”
He added: “They look at me as the only candidate south of Madison and State Street that’s in the race.”
As a school superintendent in Madison County in downstate Illinois, Daiber oversees school districts that serve about 48,000 students. He said he spent more than two decades in the classroom and worked as a village trustee and township supervisor. He also ran unsuccessfully for state representative three times in the 1990s according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Daiber spoke with Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia about where he stands on the issues and what type of change he would like to bring to state government. Below are highlights from the conversation
On gaining support from Trump voters
Bob Daiber: President Trump attracted a lot of working class people, independents and some Democrats that went to him, especially in rural Illinois. I have a strong connection — I come from a heritage of a farm family, so there’s a value component, I think, with a lot of voters that identify with downstate. I believe that Illinois voters, especially south of I-80, are glad to see someone from downstate Illinois — first time in 20 years running. Many of them were Trump voters who have contacted me while I’ve campaigned and have expressed interest in my candidacy.
On gun laws and conceal and carry permits
Daiber: I think law-abiding citizens that wanted the right to carry should have had the right to do that, and individuals who are doing most of the shooting and the crimes do not have a permit anyway, and they’d be doing this whether conceal-carry had passed or not.
What I strongly oppose is open-carry. I live 22 miles from St. Louis. Missouri passed open-carry and, in my opinion, it’s a bad law. It’s something I would never sign as governor of the state of Illinois.
On investing in mentoring programs to curtail gun violence
Daiber: The key thing that I believe we need to do to begin to curtail crime is that we need to develop mentoring programs with our youth, especially in their adolescent years, to help them understand right from wrong, not to get involved with the violence. We have 13- to 19-year-old kids involved.
Tony Sarabia: So does that mean as governor you would prioritize money for that kind of social service work?
Daiber: I most definitely would. And I would directly work on implementing it into our public school system. … I think every young person has, at different points in their life, positive outlooks on what they could become, and it only takes encouragement from someone to help shed light: “Yes, you can be successful.” And I don’t think kids hear that enough.
On raising the income tax before instituting a progressive income tax
Daiber: I’ve laid out a plan in which I do support reinstating the 5 percent income tax because we’ve lost nearly $3 billion a year in revenue. And we have this backlog of bills.
Until we can move to a progressive income tax — which is going to take a constitutional amendment — we probably won’t see revenue from a progressive income tax til 2021, which is going to be three years out.
So I’ve recommended that we need to bond out the debt. I agreed with Sen. Don Harmon, who had a $7 billion bond bill to do that, but it didn’t move in this last session. So we bond out the debt to reduce the interest, because you and I and all the listeners today are paying about $11 million in interest. And that $11 million over 365 days is the money that we immediately need to better fund CPS, it’s the money that we need to fund downstate schools, it’s the money that we need to reinstate funding for higher education.
On gay rights and abortion
Daiber: I’ve said that I support gay rights. I’ve publicly made those statements and I’ve also made some very strong statements, because people have asked me the question, that I uphold women’s reproductive rights. I was asked about if I’d sign SB40, which maintained the right for abortions in Illinois, and I said yes to that despite the fact that personally I’m pro-life.
People know that about me. But I saw Roe v. Wade come into law and I understand why that was, and so the distribution of contraceptives in our society today are a must if we’re going to curtail abortions, and so I support Planned Parenthood’s efforts and commend them for what they’re able to do to help.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Click the ‘play’ button to hear the entire segment.