DECATUR — Not thrilled about either of the major-party candidates for Illinois governor? Voters have another option in Grayson "Kash" Jackson, the 39-year-old retired Navy officer who is running as a Libertarian.
Jackson, of Antioch, stopped in Decatur on Tuesday to get the word out about his campaign to become the state's top executive. He faces incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, Democrat J.B. Pritzker and Republican state Rep. Sam McCann of Plainview, who is running under the Conservative Party banner.
Jackson spoke to the Herald & Review editorial board during a day visiting Decatur, including visits to Eisenhower High School and Waterfront Cafe.
Child custody case prompts political involvement
Jackson said he first started to get into politics was because of family case law, specifically his own.
Parental rights are a key issue, he said, and there are systemic problems in this area of the justice system that stem from ineffective state legislation. Jackson said he has been involved in a legal battle with his ex-wife over child support payments and his rights as a father have been violated.
“It was seeing that I wasn’t an isolated case in family court in how I was treated,” Jackson said. “And the more research I began to do, the more I began to understand that the system was designed and structured for states like Illinois to receive millions in federal subsidies, they utilize our children as a means to do that.”
He pointed to federal subsidies for states to help collect child support, saying they often inflate their costs at double the recommendations.
Jackson himself avoided jail time Monday by paying more than $3,000 in back child support to his ex-wife.
He reiterated Tuesday that the issue came about because the third-party website he used to issue the original payment, and under a court order, was mistakenly sent to his first ex-wife.
“We got it cleared up, I had court yesterday, and that was that,” he said.
Jackson said the most important issue facing Illinois today is its financial situation, specifically the more than $100 billion public sector pension shortfall the state faces.
While Jackson said he would eventually work toward a constitutional amendment to revamp how pensions work in the state, he said he would push for a “voluntary” opt-in to a 401(k) or a 403(b) retirement system. He stressed it would not be a mandate, but instead an option that he thinks would save the state money and be attractive to some employees.
Property tax freeze?
Jackson said he would advocate for a five-year property tax freeze across the state to stabilize population growth and create more certainty. The measure would go hand-in-hand with his plan that would require that any tax increases be passed by two-thirds of voters in a referendum at the local level.
The main thing he hopes to see in an effort to drive down property taxes is a consolidation of school administration. To do that, he said, he will visit all of Illinois’ 102 counties and let residents know they have to have a difficult conversation about it.
“It’s sitting down at a table filled with people, community leaders and citizens, and having very difficult conversations that have to be had,” he said. “I understand wanting to, at a local level, wanting to support education and your teachers," she said.
"But if you are sacrificing jobs for your teachers or sacrificing programs for our children so you can pay an administrator so you can give them that pay and benefits, then you are making the choice to put the administrator above the teachers and students.”