Democratic candidates looking to unseat Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the 2018 gubernatorial contest will gather Dec. 6 for a debate focused on LGBT-related issues.
Among the candidates in attendance will be businessmen J.B. Pritzker and Christopher Kennedy and state Sen. Daniel Biss. The forum is organized by Equality Illinois as well as ALMA Chicago, Affinity Community Services, Pride Action Tank and BTAN Chicago, among other organizations.
"We thought there should be a dialogue around what a governor should look like around LGBTQ issues," said Anthony Galloway, Equality Illinois' director of civic engagement. "We wanted people to be physically engaged in the governor's race."
Galloway added that it was important for organizers not just to get the LGBT community's questions before the candidates, but also to demonstrate "the power and strength of the LGBTQ community here in the state of Illinois. We know that if we show up in numbers, it demonstrates power."
Moderators include Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson, Pride Action Tank Executive Director Kim Hunt, Affinity Community Services Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon and ALMA Board Vice-President Kenny Martin-Ocasio. Galloway said preliminary questions would focus mainly on issues relating to health care, education, criminal justice and social justice. Other questions are meanwhile being accepted from the public.
The candidates will be asked to return next year for a debate against the Republican nominee in the general election should they win on the Democratic ticket in March, Galloway added. Rauner seems favored to win the March GOP nomination at this point; anti-LGBT state Sen. Jeanne Ives has announced that she'll be challenging him for his post, however.
"We need people to show up," Galloway said. "Having a turnout is critical. It is incumbent on us as a community to show up. I always like to quote former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill: 'All politics are local.' Politics being what they are at the national level, we want to make sure that we have strong LGBTQ policies and friendly policy-makers."
The forum takes place Dec. 6 at Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Ave. Seating begins at 5 p.m., and the presentation begins at 6 p.m. A meet & greet with the candidates begins at 7:45 p.m.
Register to attend at tinyurl.com/LGBTQForum. Advance questions can be submitted to tinyurl.com/LGBTQ-Forum-Question.