Four Democratic candidates for Illinois governor took part in a forum organized by dozens of women’s groups Saturday.
The event was coordinated by the 44-group Chicago Women Take Action Alliance, a coalition formed in 2014 to focus on political issues that are of particular interest to women.
Democratic candidates J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, state Sen. Daniel Biss and Tio Hardiman participated in the panel discussion, moderated by NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern and SEIU Healthcare’s Jaquie Algee.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his primary challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, declined to attend, the organization said in a release.
Saturday’s forum took place as issues of sexual harassment have taken center stage in politics, with the resignations of Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Trent Franks amid allegations of misconduct, and as Time Magazine named the "Silence Breakers" who spoke up about harassment and abuse Person of the Year for 2017.
The event asked the candidates' "remedies to" sexual harassment, event co-convener Marilyn Katz said in a statement, as well as focusing on “the underlying economic and social issues that place women in vulnerable positions."
"It’s really not about sex but about power," Katz said.
“We are as – if not more concerned with ensuring women have the equalizing power that is ultimately protection,” Katz continued, adding that the coalition’s agenda prioritizes the Equal Rights Amendment, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, as well as access to affordable housing and childcare, among several other issues.
All four candidates answered questions on those issues and more, voicing their opposition to many of the policies of President Donald Trump's administration, as well as those of incumbent Gov. Rauner. They also discussed the legalization of marijuana in Illinois (with all four candidates in favor), their positions on anti-union "right to work" legislation, the Affordable Care Act, a progressive income tax, and more.
More than 1,200 people attended the free event beginning at 2 p.m. Following the forum, attendees participated in a straw poll - with the results expected to be posted Saturday evening - that could provide insight into the female vote just three months before the gubernatorial primary.