The Southern Illinois Democratic Women welcomed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss to Pagliais Pizza Tuesday evening to meet with prospective voters.
Biss, D-Evanston, is a state senator in the 9th district. He has represented the district since 2013. Formerly, he was a state representative for the 17th district.
On Tuesday, he told the crowd of about 75 people in the back room at Pag’s it was never his plan to run for office in any capacity. He said he was happy teaching mathematics at the University of Illinois Chicago, calling it his dream job and that he “couldn’t envision himself doing anything else.”
Then, he said, six months later his country was going to war.
“The country was making reckless decisions,” he said. “There was a dishonestly in the air.”
At the time, he said there were people coming together across the nation to work together to transform the country, and he had to get involved.
“People working together as part of a common goal can transform their communities and can empower themselves to change their own neighborhoods,” he said. “That observation changed my life.”
He first ran for office in 2008, losing in the 17th district to Elizabeth Coulson. When Coulson retired in 2010, Biss defeated Hamilton Chang to obtain his first political seat. After two years in the House, Biss ran and won his current seat in the Illinois Senate by defeating Glenn Farkas.
Biss said there is a new generation of activists rising up across the state. He said people are concerned about politics in Washington, D.C. and the politics in Springfield, which he says has “dangerously, dangerously gone off the rails.”
He pointed to the lack of funding for social services and healthcare services, which has caused to be deadly for some in the state.
“This is a matter of life and death and people are dead today in Illinois because of the failure of state government, because of the failure of Bruce Rauner,” Biss said.
However, Biss said not everything was perfect when the current governor took office in 2015. He said the debt was there and the track record of Illinois politicians wasn’t great — mentioning the incarceration of two Illinois governors.
“We’ve had these problems that we’ve known about not for a few years, but for decades,” he said.
Biss said the people of Illinois need to transform its system of politics in such a way where the state government will be responsive for all residents. The main idea being decisions won’t be made just for a few select individuals, but with every resident in mind, he said.
“If we can accomplish that, these other problems – our state budget being broken, our inability to properly fund social services, our unfair tax system – these problems will begin to go away,” he said.
Regardless of the current political climate in Springfield, Biss said he is optimistic, because the structural problems in the state are fixable, and he says he can accomplish it.
“I decided to run for governor in 2018 because I saw a moment in Illinois that we now, in a way we haven’t before, have an opportunity to build a political movement to take back power for all of us,” Biss said.
Other gubernatorial candidates on the Democratic ticket include venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, and former University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy.