QUINCY — Downstate Illinois got a turn with the top two gubernatorial candidates.
And as the contenders answered questions pertaining specifically to central Illinois, the boisterous audience responded with cheers and boos.
Both candidates came in with a black eye so to speak.
For Governor Rauner, it was claims he didn’t do enough in responding to the Legionnaire’s outbreak at the Quincy Veterans Home that killed 15 people. For J.B. Pritzker, it was allegations that he removed toilets from one of his homes to avoid paying $330,000 in property taxes.
And you better believe both candidates used that as ammunition against their opponent. Early and often.
But they also covered a variety of other topics, including a question about education from an 8th grader at Parkview Middle School in Creve Coeur.
The student says he has not chosen his candidate yet.
But he wants them both to concentrate on downstate Illinois, not just Chicago.
Of course, we did ask about other issues in central Illinois, including the uptick in shootings we’ve seen in Peoria. Rauner and Pritzker had different takes on what’s to blame for that kind of violence.
“The largest driver of violence in our neighborhoods is unemployment. There is a lack of economic opportunity. And this has been true for decades. The violence in Chicago was just as bad, actually worse 20 years ago. It goes in cycles because of massive unemployment,” said Rauner.
“One of the biggest reasons is because when you don’t pass a budget, guess what happens? When you’re unwilling to compromise and pass a budget mental health services are cut. Substance abuse treatment, jobs programs for our youth are cut,” said Pritzker.
There were some specifics given as far as what they would do if elected.
For example, Rauner said if given another term he’d continue to push for term limits and try to make sure maps are drawn up fairly to prevent gerrymandering.
Pritzker said he’d like to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour within the next 5-6 years. Rauner said he would be in favor of a minimum wage hike if coupled with “reforms.”