Ald. Pawar campaigns for Gov. in Evanston, Lombard

Days after campaigning in La Grange, Pawar campaign continues ‘barnstorming’ across state

Lars Lonnroth , Freelance Reporter

Lombard, Ill.—Ald. Ameya Pawar, 36, isn’t a household name, and he is far from it. The two-term alderman from the 47th ward of Chicago has received much praise from his constituents, but he is trying to soar to a higher position in government: he is vying for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois.

And on April 8, the Pawar campaign made stops in Evanston and Lombard, only days after he attempted to sell his candidacy for governor of Illinois to the people of La Grange at LT’s Corral.

“I believe in a fair, just, and equitable society,” Pawar told the roughly 30 or so people gathered in the basement of the Helen M. Plum Memorial Library in Lombard. “But I also believe that if we elect people, and continue to elect people, who hate the institutions they seek to represent—who hate government—you won’t have a government that reflects equity, fairness and justice.”

Pawar spoke at length about his “New Deal for Illinois,” which he has made core aspect of his campaign. Explaining it to the crowd, Pawar said that his plan is comprised of four planks: taxing progressively and easing the burden of property taxes, universal child care, putting money into communities through “massive public investments,” and criminal justice reform.

Pawar took questions from the audience, with most of the inquiries pertaining to his plan to begin taxing progressively, or taxing those of higher wealth at a higher rate than those of lower.

Even before he began to take question, the alderman said that he has nothing against the rich, but we must make “the rational decision to come together as neighbors and invest in each other” and make the rich “pay their fair share.”

“I don’t have a problem with wealthy people—I think wealth should be celebrated—I just don’t believe we should worship it,” Pawar said. “That means we need to come together as a state and enforce major progressive change, so we can invest in one and another.”

Unlike most of the nation, Illinois has a flat-tax, where no matter how much money an individual makes, they are all taxed at the same rate. Pawar asserted that the practice “is not fair,” as “it puts the burden for paying for all of our services… on normal people,” If done correctly, Pawar said, only 5 or 10 percent of individuals in the state would be affected.

But before taking questions, Pawar talked about how he sees a “few people in this state” attempting to “divide-and-rule,” separating people “based on where they live, what they do for a living, whether they are in a union or not.”

The alderman alleged that Incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is intentionally drawing-out the state’s budget impasse in order to help his re-election efforts.

“I fundamentally believes that Bruce Rauner doesn’t want a budget, he does not want equitable funding for schools—he needs the chaos,” Pawar said. “He needs institutions to fail, he needs all this to happen so he can run against one person, or against a party, or against a city. Again, it goes back to textbook divide-and-rule.”

Steven Yaffe, spokesperson for the Illinois Republican Party said in an emailed statement that “While Democrat politicians throughout the state want to tape over Illinois’ challenges with higher taxes and more spending, Gov. Rauner is pushing to pass a truly balanced budget, freeze property taxes, enact job-creating reforms and fix our broken political system by passing term limits. Those are all issues that Illinoisans agree need to happen, but Democrats refuse to make transformational changes to improve Illinois.”

The event’s organizer, Matt Wilke, an ardent Pawar fan, organized the event in Lombard, and decided to hold the event because “if I can get people in a space together, and get a discussion involved… I think that is actually a pretty good way to cause a chain reaction and get more people involved.”

And for the Pawar Campaign, his success in the primaries is contingent on this grassroot campaigning.

Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker, both of whom are members of the six Democratic candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, are many times more wealthy than Pawar and his campaign, and he will likely be unable to reach their funding capacities.

But Pawar is attempting to go county-to-county to get a capital that is often harder to procure: Human capital. And the day of the Lombard event, Pawar tweeted out that they now have an excess of 1,400 volunteers across 61 countries.