Businessman J.B. Pritzker has been locked for months in an aggressive challenge to Gov. Bruce Rauner's incumbency. Each man has spent millions in order to win the post Nov. 6, leading to one of the most expensive elections in history. Pritzker recently summarized his qualifications and outlined his commitment to the LGBT community.
Windy City Times: Why do you think that you will be a better choice for voters than Bruce Rauner?
J.B. Pritzker: There's been a complete uncertainty around state government as a result of his failures. I think I've proven over the course of my lifetime that I've gotten big things done working together with people. I founded 1871, which has created thousands of jobs and created hundreds of companies here in Illinois; it's now the number one small-business incubator in the world. I led the effort to expand the school breakfast program for low-income kids all across the state230,000 kids now can get school breakfast as a result of the work that I did. There are thousands of children who get early childhood educationpreschool and childcareas a result of of the work that I've done for more than 20 years as a national leader. T Here's a big difference between me and Gov. Rauner: I've gotten real things done for working families all across the state. I fought discrimination as the chairman of the Human Rights Commission. I led the building of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which teaches more than 60,000 kids every year in Illinois to fight bigotry, hatred and intolerance.
WCT: What can LGBT residents expect from you should you be elected?
JBP: I'd begin my reminding you what Bruce Rauner failed at, when it comes to the LGBTQ community: His budget crisis threatened the lives of LGBTQ people by cutting critical funding for HIV-testing and -prevention, and gutting homeless youth, substance abuse and mental health services, all of which are critically important to people in the LGBTQ community. I think we need a governor who will restore civility to those services and defend the rights of every person in our state.
In my administration, I'll fight hate wherever it occurs in our state, by rooting out bullying in our schools and enforcing workplace nondiscrimination laws. I'll continue to fight for a federal law that protects LGBTQ workers' rights, but of course we have to make sure that we are prosecuting those laws that we have on the books here in the state properly. I'll work with legislators to pass budgets that fund the services that Bruce Rauner failed to [fund].
I've proven over the years that I have been an ally of the LGBTQ community. My mother was an activist in 1970s, working with the LGBT leadership, where I are up, so I've been engaged in this literally since I was a little kid. I was marching in the Chicago Pride Parade long before to was just a celebration and instead it was a protest march.
I worked hard near the end of the fight for marriage equality in Illinois, to flip one vote in particular. It was the vote of state Rep. Jack Franks, and it was a critically important vote. I feel like a played an important role thereworking with others, of courseto make a difference when it comes to marriage equality, which we all take for granted today, but that was only a few years ago. People in the LGBTQ community know that they can count on me to stand with them, and up for them, in state government and as the leader of our state.
WCT: Playing off one part of that, Illinois has very strong anti-discrimination laws, but different aspects of those laws are coming under attack from the Trump administration. What can the Illinois governor do to shore up protections for our residents as those attacks come down from the federal level?
JBP: You want a governor who's willing to stand up to Donald Trump. Gov. Rauner has been utterly silent about most things around Donald Trump. He's been most willing to allow to take away people's healthcare. He's willing to go without response for days when Trump referred to the "many sides" of the Charlottesville civil rights marchers versus the neo-Nazis. It literally took the governor four days to finally say something. Standing up to Donald Trump and looking for every way that we can to protect the rights that we hold dear in the LGBTQ community in the state of Illinois … is something that people should know that their government will do.
See JBPritzker.com .
See more Windy City Times 2018 candidate interviews and election coverage at www.windycitymediagroup.com/gaynewsarticles.php .