Lt. Governor candidate and Cairo Mayor Tyrone Coleman made a stop in Carbondale this past weekend as part of his and gubernatorial candidate Ameya Pawar’s “Don’t Close Our Communities” tour.
Coleman toured the Center for Empowerment and Justice at 215 N. Washington St., on Saturday. He said the tour is part of their campaign’s initiative to raise awareness of the problems communities across the state face as a result of decades of disinvestment. The stop in Carbondale was one of many on Saturday, including Eldorado.
“I got a chance to talk to a lot of people,” Coleman said. “I got the opportunity to see where stores have been closed just like where I live at in Cairo.”
He said everywhere he has been on this tour has made him think more in depth about Illinois and how people are struggling.
“This is the fifth largest in the nation. The richest country in the world and yet we have so many people that is struggling just to make a decision to eat or pay medical bills,” Coleman said. “We are talking about working people in general. Those who work 40 hours a week and still have to make a decision between medicine or food.”
He said there has been a collapse of the middle class.
“There is just the rich and the poor. Either you have or you don’t have,” Coleman said. “And there are too many have nots. We elect people and it seems like they become rich and forget about their constituents. They get so caught up in having to fundraise to get reelected, they don’t have time to work for their constituents.”
To make a change, Coleman said one of the biggest components is working side-by-side with other elected officials.
“You have to care enough to look beyond party lines,” he said. “People don’t really care if you are Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative — they just need help.
“If I’m drowning, I don’t care who helps me. I just want somebody to save me.”
Pawar has launched this tour to go from Chicago to Cairo and said the residents demand investments in public institution, instead of more closures.
“While the problems facing communities from Cairo to Englewood may be different, the solutions are the same. We need to take our state back from career politicians and insiders who care more about their own interests than helping people struggling to get ahead,” Pawar said in a statement. “It’s time to come together to demand investment to prevent more closure. Illinoisans from all walks of life need to come together and declare: “We’re Still Here. Don’t Close Our Communities.”
Coleman joined Pawar’s campaign in August. He is in his second term as the Mayor of Cairo for the past six years, being reelected in the past election cycle. He says his experience in Cairo has him uniquely positioned to help people.
“It’s working for people, that’s how I look at it,” he said. “I know what it is to be in a community that I serve. I know what some of the need are. It would be easy for me to address those issues, coming out of those issues.”