The government, says Illinois gubernatorial candidate Ameya Pawar, can be a force for good. But that means "You need to elect people who believe in government and not hate it," he said in reference to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Donald Trump.
Democrat Pawar, a Chicago alderman, spoke Sunday evening to a group of about 40 people at Gunchie’s, 2107 4th Ave., Rock Island. He proposes a four-fold “New Deal” for Illinois to increase funding for all public schools, ensure universal access to childcare to support working families — “If we say we have family values, then we have to value families” — create tens of thousands of middle-class jobs through investment in the infrastructure and help people exit the justice system by redirecting resources from prisons to communities, including job training and placement, social programs, mental health and addiction services.
In a phone interview before his appearance, Pawar referred to communities along the state’s western border on the Mississippi River. “These amazing towns, if we just made some investment in our tourism structure, would be massive economic drivers," he said. "We know tourism is possible on the Mississippi River — look at Galena.”
“The thing about the New Deal is that it’s old and new,” he said. “We have to look to history to forge our paths forward. We built this country by investing in one another.”
“We’re all one state. Chicago is not the enemy,” Pawar said. “We are all depending on one another."
He used the term “divide and rule,“ adding that he knows that it means “because my family’s experienced it.
“The British were the few and wealthy,” he said. They divided the Indians by where they lived, what they did for a living and how they worshiped, he said.
“It is how wealthy people and demagogues rule. We can either fall victim to that and look to one another or recognize we’re all neighbors.
“I’m a Democrat. I’m from Chicago. But you’re my neighbor," he said. "I’m not going to follow the standard Democratic playground where you focus on Chicago. I’m going to every county in the state. I’m running to represent everybody.”
Among those attending was Moline High School student Zamone Perez, 17, (“I’ll be 18 when I vote.”) “(Pawar) is going where other people aren’t going,” he said, into neglected communities or forgotten cities.
“As a down-stater, it’s extremely important that candidates come to downstate areas,” said Perez, who plans to major in politics and English.
Voting, Perez advises other young people, “is a civic duty. “It’s a right other people don’t have around the world.”
Jack Segal, of Highland Park, is an intern on Pawar’s advance team. He said Pawar’s “One Illinois” campaign started Friday, and will visit 20 towns and cities in 10 days. “We want to bring everyone together,” he said.