Home » Blog » The Forum’s ENCUENTRO Brings Gubernatorial Candidates, Civic Leaders and Students Together

The Forum’s ENCUENTRO Brings Gubernatorial Candidates, Civic Leaders and Students Together

By Roberto A. Valdez Jr, Communications Associate, Latino Policy Forum

Despite that the political climate has been tumultuous for Latinos since the 2016 presidential election, Illinois is again ready to engage with the polls and vote for candidates they believe will best represent them as governor.  While there are key congressional districts in play, in addition to the next Attorney General seat up-for-grabs, the gubernatorial race is hotly contested.

Commemorating its 10th anniversary, the Latino Policy Forum continues its legacy of providing the Latino community with resources needed to make educated decisions and co-organized Encuentro, a gubernatorial “get to know” the candidates gathering at Harold Washington College last week that focused primarily on issues impacting Latinos.

The Forum along with Harold Washington College Student Government Association, the Young Invincibles, Univision Chicago, and the Illinois Latino Agenda invited students from Chicago City Colleges and local Latino leaders. Encuentro provided the six Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Illinois Senator Daniel Biss, Mr. Bob Daiber, Mr. Tio Hardiman, Mr. Chris Kennedy, Dr. Robert “Bob” Marshall and Mr. JB Pritzker a platform to address these issues. Other candidates were invited but unable to attend.

The Forum’s Executive Director, Sylvia Puente, addressed the audience prior to the candidates’ presentations, saying, “the people represented in this room, as students and members of the Latino community have the potential to decide the future of the State."

When asked about Latino representation in the government, the first candidate on stage, Illinois State Senator Daniel Bliss stated that he was “committed to increasing diversity in leadership positions, but not without the help of the community.”

Next, Mr. Bob Daiber, addressed the crowd and stated that he was “running for governor to help all young people in Illinois,” which was well received by the large student population in the audience.

Third in line was Mr. Tio Hardiman who ran for governor in 2014 but fell short of the Democratic nomination. Mr. Hardiman jokingly asked the audience to vote for him because “he was part Puerto Rican.” Joking aside, Mr. Hardiman did make it clear that when it came to undocumented individuals, “we need[ed] to find a pathway to citizenship for them.”

Dr. Robert “Bob” Marshall was the fourth candidate to hit the stage. Dr. Marshall emphasized the need for Illinois to find “new and innovative ways” to bring revenue to the state. Some of his ideas included legalizing and taxing marijuana as well as looking in to the possibility of legalizing gambling in Chicago – referencing the success Las Vegas has had.

Mr. JB Pritzker was the fifth candidate to address the audience. In his opening statement, Mr. Pritzker emphatically said, “the president is a racist and has no place in Illinois” when referring to Donald Trump’s agenda and how it affected the state.

The final candidate, Mr. Chris Kennedy, said, “when we isolate an entire group of people and do not let them have the same opportunities in education, we do not support the values that separate us from other countries: unlimited freedom.” This was in response to the question of allowing undocumented students to have the same financial aid as other students.

Instead of a traditional candidate debate layout, the format for this event allowed each candidate to take the stage individually and give remarks to the audience. After their remarks, Univision anchor Enrique Rodriguez, the master of ceremony for the night, took questions from students and civic leaders in the crowd. The questions asked were formulated by a committee made up of community leaders and students and consisted of the following topics: higher education, immigration, social/human services, Latino representation in government and a Fair Tax in Illinois. Each candidate had one minute to respond to these questions.

ENCUENTRO can be watched on CANTV's YouTube page.

The Forum conducted live polling the night of the event. To view the results, please click here.

A special thank you to the Reva & David Logan Foundation and the Woods Fund Chicago whose funding made this event possible. 

Posted In: Leadership