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  WINDY CITY TIMES

ELECTIONS 2018: GOVERNOR Bob Daiber discusses political plans
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Matt Simonette
2018-01-16

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Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber is the only person in the Democratic pool of candidates hoping to unseat Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018 who hails from downstate Illinois.

Daiber has years of experience working with education-related issues, but the Marine, Illinois, native thinks he is the right person to harness progressive energy from what's traditionally been a "red" part of the state. He recently spoke to Windy City Times about why he's running, his experience with the LGBT community and his plans should he win the post in 2018.

Windy City Times: What prompted you to run?

Bob Daiber: If you go back and look at Rauner's success in becoming governor, he won every county outside of Cook County in 2014, when he defeated Pat Quinn. What I had heard—and I was a supporter of Pat Quinn, I campaigned for him—was that there was a voter disconnect that was taking place and growing. This intensified with the Trump victory in many parts of the southern part of the state.

I had been very active politically and in the streets myself. I sensed that the way that you turn that tide is that you have a person [run who is] from a region who's been successful in getting large sums of votes declare their candidacy and who's also got a progressive agenda. … I also had really strong concerns about the direction that Illinois is going financially as well as the support of the public schools and the diminishing of higher ed and social programs.

WCT: What do you see as your biggest advantage in the race and your biggest challenge?

BD: My biggest advantage is the firsthand experience I've had in government and in public service that other candidates haven't had. It's why I have the ability to articulate the message and share the stories that I do—I've governed firsthand. That's a tremendous advantage, in really understanding public education—30 years of experience working with all the issues around kids, including those in the LGBTQ community.

What has been my greatest challenge has been being from southern Illinois and making myself known in Cook County and the city, developing trust. … You've got to work hard to reach all those voters, and it comes down to having the resources to do it.

WCT: What are the two or three most pertinent issues that the next governor will face?

BD: Without any question, our finances in the state and our budget—our budget has got to be balanced. Our debt is such that we have to look at the revenues in the state to manage the debt that we have—that's first and foremost.

The second big challenge is really to develop a marketing plan that does a multitude of things. … I think that a marketing plan—a well-put together approach to tell people the good things about Illinois, why you should invest in the state, improve development, and telling success stories by those who are here that are doing well—begins a change in the climate in Illinois. It's going to be a challenge for a governor to change the image—the image of Illinois is not good. It's easy to write bad press about Illinois, but it will take a marketing plan for that to change.

The other big issue for a governor is there are a lot of social issues [that must be addressed]. That's why I have been a proponent of championing an equal rights amendment in the state. That's a real challenge for the next governor to pass, because that encapsulates a lot of social issues and programs that bring about equity in the state for a lot of people.

WCT: Last month you took part in the LGBT issues debate up here. What do you see as two or three most pertinent issues for LGBT residents of the state?

BD: The reception of transgender individuals is one of the big issues. There was a real champion piece of legislation on the birth certificate modification. We can get those passed, but there are individuals who want to challenge those bills and test them in the courts—I see that as a real challenge.

There have been great milestones made by the LGBT community in the last decade. I think the next one is further [acceptance] in society, especially in the private-sector workplace, and the acceptance of individuals who are transgender. There is also the public school dimension. I think you're going to see a true social revolution around this issue. This is going to be challenge to schools and public meeting places; you'll see more[non-gender specific] public bathrooms. I don't think you're going to see single-sex bathrooms in the future and I think we're going to see that as social progress.

WCT: Speak a bit about your work as superintendent has given you the opportunity to learn more about or work on behalf of the LGBT community.

BD: One of the key things that I've done as regional superintendent is make sure that students who are gay or lesbian are not being bullied in school. To parents that has been one of the most respectful tings I've done in their eyes—making sure that kids are treated fairly, are not discriminated against, and have rights. T … School should be a welcoming environment.

I spoke at the [Dec. 6] LGBTQ forum about hosting a forum to provide legal guidance [pertaining to transgender students]. When I did that, people laughed at me and asked me if I was crazy. But we held a summit and made sure that school superintendents knew the rights of transgender students in the state of Illinois and developed guidance.

I'm also interested in the [forthcoming Getting to Zero] town hall meeting because that is a great goal—getting to "zero" on HIV. It should be one of our hallmark goals in health care in the state, and I cheerfully want to participate in it for educational reasons. I want to know the information in it because it's how we provide guidance to schools. That's what I feel is how I helped contribute as an educator in Illinois.

See BobDaiber.com .


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