By Torch Staff
The College of Education will hold a forum featuring two current gubernatorial candidates for the Democratic primary in Illinois. State senator Daniel Biss and businessman Chris Kennedy will discuss education policy in Roosevelt’s Ganz Hall on the seventh floor of the Auditorium Building on Nov. 16.
Dean of the College of Education Thomas Philion said he hopes the forum will give students and others who attend the opportunity to engage with the two candidates. “So often, we think of civic engagement as simply voting. But it is really more than that. It is actually all about organizing and attending forums like this one, listening hard, and asking good questions. It’s about carefully vetting candidates and trying to figure out who would make the best candidate—who would catalyze the most improvement in our society,” said Philion.
Biss, a former mathematics professor at the University of Chicago, is a state senator from the ninth district, as well as former member of the Illinois House representing the 17 district. The issues Biss is running on are getting money out of politics, investing in jobs and criminal justice reform, among others.
Kennedy, a former chair of the board of trustees at University of Illinois, started his political career in the 1980 when he worked for his uncle, U.S senator Ted Kennedy. Congressman Bobby Rush endorsed Kennedy in June 2017. Kennedy and his wife, Sheila Kennedy, started Top Box Food, a hunger relief organization based in Chicago. Kennedy has openly supported reforming education, limiting access to guns and raising minimum wage to 15 dollars.
Biss and Kennedy are just two of the candidates for the Democratic Party in the primary on March 20. Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, Bob Daiber and Tio Hardiman are others vying for the nomination. Incumbent governor Republican Bruce Rauner will seek reelection but face primary challenges from State Representative Jeanne Ives and radio host William J. Kelly.
Daniel Biss will start off the discussion panel and then take questions. Chris Kennedy will follow. The two candidates will discuss mainly educational issues within Illinois.
“Recent events in Illinois and nationally have taught us that we can’t take anything for granted, and if we don’t get involved we may end up with policies and politicians and educational environments that are really detrimental to our society,” said Philion. “So we are excited to be involved and to do something that really lives up to the historic mission of the university to engage actively with politics and to support the pursuit of positive social change.”