The 2010 campaign season was underway Saturday as candidates for various state and federal public offices were in attendance for a forum hosted by Greater Open Door Baptist Church, 1301 S. Sawyer. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis of the 7th Illinois District convened the forum for growing Democratic field of hopefuls. Davis is retiring from the U.S. Congress and is running for Cook County Board president in next year’s race.

The candidates participating Saturday were: gubernatorial candidates, Dan Hynes and Bill “Dock” Walls (Incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn was not in attendance); state Sen. Rickey Hendon and state Rep. Art Turner, both running for lieutenant governor; U.S. Senate hopefuls, Cheryle Jackson and David Hoffman (State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias was a no show); and Illinois 7th District candidates, Jim Ascot, Darlena Burnett, state Rep. Annazette Collins, Robert Dallas, Rev. Marshall Hatch, and Ken Johns.

Each person had three minutes for an opening remark, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. First up was Dan Hynes, incumbent state comptroller, who focused on fixing the state’s budget and health care system. Hynes talked about having a simple plan for getting to the bottom of the budget crises, including closing loopholes, having corporations pay their fair share, and not taxing the poor or middleclass. He called for increasing taxes on families earning more than $200,000.

“Anyone earning less than $200,000 will not have an increase; we need a gradual tax,” Hynes vowed. “We can balance the budget, but it will take time.”

A former aid to late Mayor Harold Washington, Walls recalled leaving law school to help with Washington’s campaign. Walls then tackled the issued of the current capital budget program and investing in things that are generates revenue, namely in children and creating jobs.

“People are suffering, losing homes; the economy is a mess and we can’t continue to do the things we use to do,” he said.

Turner, who represents the 9th legislative district, which includes the West Side, touted his 30 years of experience and his “commitment to the community and knowing what programs are needed.” Hendon explained his long history in government and not being a “yes-man.” The 5th District senator and Democratic House leader was also quite elated about the $40 million he garnered for the West Side.

U.S. senatorial candidates Cheryle Jackson and David Hoffman both introduced themselves by explaining their backgrounds. Jackson is former president of the Chicago Urban League and previously worked for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich as his spokeswoman, but soon cut those ties and left that post. Hoffman is a former federal prosecutor and talked about fighting corruption and being a reformer, touting his 16 years in public service.

As for the wide open 7th District race, the six hopefuls talked up their prospects and backgrounds.

Ascot is a businessman and president of Ascot Realty Group, and Burnett is a State Central Committeewoman of the 7th Dist. She currently serves as chief deputy for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office and is the wife of 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett. Annazette Collins, who represents the 10th District, was previously an administrator for the Chicago Board of Education. Oak Park resident Robert Dallas has made several previous runs for the 7th Congressional seat. Ken Johnson is a businessman with a background in civic and public service.

Rev. Marshall Hatch has served as pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church for 24 years. His missionary work abroad, he noted, includes building affordable homes and taking medical needs to Africa.