(The Center Square) – Gubernatorial candidates from both parties are making addressing violence a top priority.
Beverly Miles, who is challenging Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the Democratic primary, told Illinois Radio Network Monday more needs to be done to address gun and gang violence.
“Chicago has been at an all time high of violence,” Miles said in an interview. “The issues of gun violence should be treated with the same sense of urgency and in the same manner in which the state of Illinois and the country is treating the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Miles’ three-pronged approach would increase cooperation with federal authorities in combating gun trafficking, consulting with community leaders with on-the-ground knowledge of the violence, and expanding mental health issues of violent offenders.
Last week, after spending a night on the streets of Chicago with Pastor Corey Brooks, venture capitalist and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jesse Sullivan told Fox News the crime in Chicago is out of hand.
“I listened to those gunshots happen on the streets of Chicago and it brought me right back to Helmand, Afghanistan,” Sullivan said. “It’s wrong and our political leaders need to step up and quit prioritizing criminals and putting them in front of victims and police.”
Sullivan’s campaign said in an email to The Center Square a “leftist social agenda masquerading as criminal justice reform is eroding accountability.” His campaign advocated for community policing and repealing a recent police reform bill.
“Children in Chicago are dying from gun violence at a rate 3 times higher than in 2020,” Sullivan’s campaign said. “Additional resources should be allocated to investigate child murders, and sentencing for murdering these powerless victims must be much stricter.”
This week, state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, also camped out overnight with Brooks and heard gunshots at 2 in the morning.
“And it was about 20 minutes later I heard the shrill screaming of a woman’s voice ‘he’s been shot, he’s been shot,’” Bailey said during a news conference in Chicago on Monday. “It was probably another 20 minutes before an ambulance made its way over there.”
Bailey said leaders in Illinois need to make addressing violence a priority. He made a $5,000 donation to Brook’s Project H.O.O.D. program.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently approved spending $250 million on community-based anti-violence programs over the next two-and-a-half years. Grants will be competitive.
Miles said such funds should be sent directly to the programs that will benefit the most, not those making a living off such funding.
“I really question the intent on stopping the violence when a lot of those individuals, this is their full time income,” Miles said. “This is how they feed their families, and I question, are they really here to get rid of the violence.”
Bailey agreed the money should be targeted where it's most beneficial by cutting out the middleman.
“I believe we need to redirect funds and get them directly to the streets where they need to go,” Bailey said. “All government does in the state of Illinois is toss money at problems without any accountability.”
Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, is also vying for the GOP nomination. He said he’s the only prosecutor running for the job and has three action items.
“First, I will make it clear that I unequivocally support our law enforcement personnel,” Schimpf said in a statement to The Center Square. “Second, I will ensure that our law enforcement personnel have the funding for the equipment and training to perform their duties. I will veto any legislation that defunds police by burdening them with unsustainable mandates.”
“Lastly, I will make myself accountable for bringing stakeholders together to increase the safety of our communities,” Schimpf said. “It is unfathomable to me that JB Pritzker has the audacity to seek re-election after the safety of Illinois citizens has deteriorated so badly on his watch."
Businessman Gary Rabine, who's also seeking the GOP nomination, shared pictures from atop Brook’s rooftop Sunday.
“[W]e did hear gunshots a few times throughout the night,“ Rabine said in a Facebook post. “[W]hen we scale Project HOOD to serve thousands of young people and their families with mentorship, education and opportunities we will transform our city’s culture.”
Rabine said in a statement to Illinois Radio Network he would repeal recent reforms to police, direct state resources to get more officers on the streets, expand enterprise zones in low-income areas to spur economic growth and put public pressure on prosecutors to go after criminals.
"Recognizing that my law and order agenda will meet stiff resistance from the entrenched Democrats in the legislature, as Governor I would utilize my executive powers however possible to stop the crime epidemic in Illinois," Rabine said. "And as the CEO of the state, I will focus on the root the causes and keep working until the carnage has stopped and people in the communities most affected by crime have the educational and economic opportunities they deserve."
Pritzker’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Illinois' primary for Democrats and Republicans is June 28, 2022.