Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Sheila Simon, Baxter Swilley Debate While Plummer Skips Out

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Sheila Simon (D) and Baxter Swilley (I) talk policy with Mary Ann Ahern.

Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Jason Plummer, skipped his scheduled debate at NBC Chicago Thursday, leaving Sheila Simon (D) and Baxter Swilley (I) to debate police issues.

NBC Chicago left a vacant chair for Plummer.

[Ed. Note: Plummer informed NBC he wasn't attending a week prior to the debate. Originally, Plummer's campaign said they were available, but then canceled. Plummer has also been notoriously hard to contact in other venues, according to several accounts.]

UPDATE: The AP reports that Plummer says he's been to events where Sheila Simon hasn't shown up. Plummer is also scheduled for a debate on WTTW next week.

Green Party candidate Don Crawford was also invited, but he declined the invitation, saying his boss "won't let me off that day."

Tha candidates addressed the major policy issues -- education, pensions, taxes -- with Simon largely reaffirming support for Quinn's policeis, and Swilley explaining how he was qualified to be a heartbeat away from the Governor's office.

Simon and Swilley did not so much debate policy as state their positions. Simon focused mostly on Plummer's absence, while Swilley reiterated he was running for the people and not against the Democratic party.

A few highlights:

On Taxes
Swilley: "They are personal income taxes. I don't believe they should be mandated to be released. I have not released mine, but I'm not against it, to be honest with you. We need a process that is sanctioned by the State Board of Elections to ensure our candidates  are on the up-and-up. Peronsal income taxes should not be one of them."

Would you release them if asked? "Yes, I would."

Simon: "I disagree. When we ask to hold public office we are asking for the public's trusts. I've got my tax documents right here as well as the governor's."

Sion also called out Jason Plummer for his refusal to release his taxes.

On Qualifications
Swilley said he's prepared to be governor, and that he believes voters are ready to trust a candidate who doesn't necessarily have a political background. "The first part of it is credibility," Swilley said. "I started an organization, Citizens for 2016, because I wanted to build public support...I believe we can use all of our skills in the public interest, and that's why I'm running for Lieutenant Governor."

Simon touted her experience on the Carbondale City Council, her law career, and her motherhood as qualifications. "Most significantly, I think that teaching ability is something that will be very useful," Simon said.

On Being Accessible to the Public
Simon: "Mr. Swilley and I are at least able to keep track of our calendars to make it to a debate. I brought along a calendar and a highlighter for Mr. Plummer and his empty chair."

Watch the video, above, for the full debate.

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