In his first comments revealing his vision for the state of Illinois, gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy announced Tuesday he wants to see "radical change" in the state's current political climate.
The Chicago Democrat said during a speech at the Harold Washington Cultural Center that he hope to to alter "the regressive property tax system," enact a progressive tax "to end the unfair way we have a single flat tax rate for all citizens," and pass comprehensive ethics reforms to "restore faith in state government and politics."
“I contend that, for millions of families, the system is broken," Kennedy said in a statement. "Governor Rauner says he wants to freeze property taxes; I want to lower them. He wants to preserve the system; I want to abandon it. The political establishment in Springfield will oppose me with everything they’ve got because they know I’m not afraid to tell the truth, to take on the status quo, and to change the system.”
Kennedy added that, if elected, if he can't balance Illinois' budget in his first term as governor, he won't seek re-election.
“We need integrity in our institutions and we need accountability from our elected politicians," he said. "As a candidate, I can tell you that if I am successful in becoming our governor, and if I don’t balance the budget, I won’t run for re-election, nor should I. That’s a level of accountability and honesty that's sorely missing in Springfield.”
Illinois has gone nearly two years without passing a balanced budget.
Kennedy officially announced his candidacy in the 2018 governor’s race earlier this year following months of speculation.
“I moved to Illinois thirty years ago with an enthusiasm for business and a commitment to serve,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Today, I am announcing my run for Governor because I love Illinois, but we have never been in worse shape. We need incremental improvement — we need fundamental change in state government.”
The son of the late Bobby Kennedy, the Democrat has become increasingly visible over the past year, meeting with labor and party leaders in Illinois. In July, he spoke at the Democratic National Convention, slamming Gov. Bruce Rauner in front of the Illinois delegation.
Kennedy was the second high-profile Democrat to challenge Rauner in the 2018 governor’s race, after Ald. Ameya Pawar announced his candidacy a month earlier. Numerous other candidates, including billionaire J.B. Pritzker and State Sen. Daniel Biss, have also joined the race.
Kennedy, who previously managed Chicago’s Merchandise Mart and now heads a hunger-relief nonprofit alongside his wife, reportedly aims to partially self-fund his campaign.
During the DNC, Kennedy met with House Speaker Michael Madigan to discuss his prospective bid. Madigan, who serves as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, said Kennedy would make an “excellent candidate” for governor.
The Illinois Republican Party have previously slammed Kennedy and Madigan, launching a website to highlight their ties.