State Sen. Kwame Raoulwho, in 2004, took over the role that then-state Sen. Barack Obama vacated when he left for the U.S. Senatehas been locked in a challenging showdown with attorney Erika Harold to become Illinois' next attorney general.
Raoul spoke with Windy City Times about his views about the post, as well as the attorney general's responsibilities to the LGBT community.
Windy City Times: Were you to win, do you see your time in office as being any different from the time Attorney General Lisa Madigan has been in office?
Kwame Raoul: I certainly don't look to fix what's not broken within the attorney general's office. [Madigan] has been a tremendous consumer advocate and advocate for victims, and certainly I intend on continuing what Lisa Madigan has done, in a very strong manner, in the office. Are there things I intend to build upon or expand? Yes, most certainly. I worked with Lisa Madigan to create a public-access counselor within the attorney general's office. Neither she nor I could have anticipated that the public access counselor would be as overburdened as they are right now. So one of the things I would do … is try to create better transparency, by way of that public access counselor being more efficiently run. That would be by way of directing more resources to that public access counselor for processing claims.
Secondly, I think criminal justice reform is an area I have been very active in, in the legislature, and I think is one the attorney general's voice has been absent in. I would leverage the attorney general's bully pulpit to be able to have the voice of advocacy, both from a policy-making standpoint as well as with the public at large, to make sure that we exercise additional reforms.
WCT: Where does the attorney general fit in, with respect to municipal issues, such as police corruption, or national issues?
KR: That's my third prong. I was recently at a democratic attorney general's association policy conference. Lisa Madigan introduced me. What she said is that I've "wanted her job for a while," which is true. … I had expected her to run for governor about five years ago, and prepared then to run for attorney general. That role that I prepared for then is vastly different than what it is today, because of the role attorneys general have played both individually and collectively, given the challenges presented by the federal government, and the Trump administration in particular. I would look to play more of a leadership role in the efforts to fight back against what we anticipate and what we have experienced already from the administration.
WCT: What do you see as the most pertinent issues for the LGBT community? What responsibilities does the attorney general have towards the LGBT community?
KR: One of the most important parts they have to play is with respect to discrimination, particularly within the workplace, where potentially [after Justice Brett Kavenaugh's Supreme Court appointment] the perspective on what is allowable could shift. … Given the potential shift in the court, what we may need to see in Illinois is protections implanted into our state constitutions to give us protection against how the courts might interpret the U.S. Constitution.
WCT: Why do you think voters should choose you over Erika Harold?
KR: I think the choices are clearly distinguishable. I applaud Erika Harold for lending herself to the journey of running for office. You put yourself under a magnifying glass. It's absolutely okay for her to have different opinions on critical issues than I do. One of the things that she has said is that her personal views do not matter. I think they do. She said that in the context of saying that her sole job is to enforce the law. I know, from policy-making, that the attorney general weighs in both on behalf of and against policy changes on a week-to- week basis. The notion that those personal views don't matter is inaccurate. When my opponent says what her views might be on sexual orientation, or a woman's right to decide what's right for her body … [I think] our views may be different, but they matter. For her to say that they don't matter shows a lack of appreciation for the full scope of the duties.
See KwameRaoul.com .
See more Windy City Times 2018 candidate interviews and election coverage at www.windycitymediagroup.com/gaynewsarticles.php .