Web Extra! Slideshow
The Westside Brach of the NAACP hosted a candidates forum in Austin on Sunday, Sept. 26.

Candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and comptroller attended the event, hosted by Christ the King High School, 5088 W. Jackson, in the school’s cafeteria. A large crowed attended and was able to question candidates: David Miller, who’s running for comptroller; gubernatorial candidate Scott Cohen and his running mate, Baxter Swilley; Sheila Simon, who’s on the ballot for Lt. Gov.; and Rich Whitney, a candidate for governor.

Other candidates for these and other offices were invited but did not attend.

Questions for those who showed up ranged from jobs to crime to education. Among the topics that sparked the most interest from candidates and audience members during the roughly two-hour forum was education. Specifically, the candidates were asked whether they supported the charter school model, and if they felt that model was an acceptable alternative to Chicago’s public school system.

Whitney, a Green Party candidate, insisted that he’s not a fan of charter and instead said he’d focus on solving problems in the current public school system. Simon, who’s running on the Democratic ticket with Gov. Pat Quinn – who did not attend Sunday’s forum – said she supports charter schools and any other good ideas to fix failing schools, though she also maintained that any solution should consist of accountability and fairness.

Cohen and Swilley, both running as independents, support charter schools but are also campaigning for vouchers. Cohen added that he’d take state money generated from the lottery and allocate all of it toward education, which, he says, was the purpose of creating the lottery to begin with. Simon added that she does support public education, while Whitney has called for a moratorium on creating more charter schools.

The candidates also squared off on taxes and jobs. Cohen and Swilley were the only ones among the candidates to flatly oppose an increase in the state income tax to address Illinois budget deficit, both arguing that it would hurt low-income workers in particular and drive jobs out of the state.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Photos by Dwayne Truss

From AustinTalks.com