University of Chicago Democrats and College Democrats of Illinois hosted a public forum on Monday for candidates in the Attorney General of Illinois Democratic primary race. Seven of the eight candidates appeared at the forum, which was moderated by NBC 5 News political reporter Mary Ann Ahern.
The forum began with a brief introduction from each of the candidates and a statement from candidate Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, relayed by a spokesperson. Candidates began the evening by unanimously denouncing the actions of the Trump administration and asserting their favor of progressive policy.
Ahern organized the evening in rounds by posing a question and allowing each candidate an answering period of two to three minutes. Candidates answered questions on marijuana legalization, the Quincy Veterans’ Home, possible rescission of Illinois sanctuary state federal funding, police reform, and sexual harassment.
All candidates agreed on the need for an attorney general with a desire to place a greater focus on the interest of the people rather than the politicians. Speaking about her law career, candidate Sharon Fairley said, “I have only represented the citizens of Illinois. Not corporate interests, the citizens.”
This theme was echoed by all candidates as they expressed the need to refocus priorities on public interest, focusing less on politics and deals with organizations. “At some point the Illinois government became more about the politicians than it did about the people, and that absolutely needs to change,” Illinois State Representative Scott Drury said.
The field of candidates make this election unique. Candidates include former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, as well as individuals with no experience as an elected official, such as Renato Mariotti (A.B. ’98), who promotes his position as a political outsider. Given concerns of corruption among Illinois politicians, particularly in the face of recent sexual harassment revelations in the state capitol, the attorney general race has allowed candidates to promote platforms highlighting their role as replacements for politicians they claim have corrupted the Illinois legislature.
When asked about sexual harassment in the workplace in the context of recent events in the state capitol, Mariotti expressed his concern with sexual harassers writing legislation. In reference to Springfield gaining a reputation as a “frat house,” Mariotti said, “A frat house suggests people are getting drunk and having a party. But sexual assault is not a party, it’s a frickin’ crime.”
The forum ended with even more pronounced zeal for new political leadership. As candidate Aaron Goldstein said, “Who would have ever thought that after the first African-American president, we would have a Nazi in the White House?”