Governor-elect Bruce Rauner recently announced his leadership team, which includes Lt. Gov.-elect Evelyn Sanguinetti, Chairwoman; political strategist Mike Zolnierowicz, Transition Director; Judy Baar Topinka aide Nancy Kimme, Transition Adviser; campaign manager Chip Englander, Senior Advisor and Mike Schrimpf Communication Director.
Rauner was dogged on the campaign trail regarding his failure to hire any African Americans in senior executive roles during his entire 30-year tenure at GTCR. During the debates, Rauner indicated that he cared most about the African American community and shared examples of his charitable giving and running charter schools in African American communities. He hammered Gov. Quinn on his record of taking the African American community for granted, citing the fact that only 1 percent of all Illinois contracts have gone to African American-owned companies. He promised that his leadership would be different, and that he would have diversity in his administration and create jobs for African Americans.
The election is over now, and it is clear that Rauner’s winning formula included campaigning heavily in the African American community, securing support of pastors of the largest African American congregations in the City of Chicago and reaching out to African American political/street operatives. None of those people has been selected for a leadership role on his transition team. How can Rauner effect change for African Americans in the State of Illinois if he continues to shut us out of leadership roles? The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Editor’s note: Rauner has added Rev. James Meeks of Salem Baptist Church and Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church to his transition team Thursday, Nov. 6.