Illinois attorney general candidates talk priorities in upcoming election

October 3, 2018

Three candidates will face off in the Nov. 6 election in a race to take over the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Libertarian Bubba Harsy, Democrat Kwame Raoul and Republican Erika Harold met with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board to voice their opinions on criminal justice reform, the opioid epidemic, consumer fraud and gun rights.

Raoul, a lifelong Hyde Park resident, has been a practicing lawyer for about 25 years.

He also is a state senator in the

13th District and has served in the position since the seat was vacated by former President Barack Obama.

Harold, of Champaign, is a practicing attorney who graduated from Harvard Law School. She serves on a number of boards, including the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality, the Trinity International University Board of Regents and Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, according to her website.

Harsy, of Du Quoin, is a general practice lawyer who served as a legislative aide in the Maryland General Assembly while attending law school.

Harsy also worked at the U.S. Department of Education and was an intern at the U.S. Senate, according to his website.

Harold and Raoul have clashed in the past over political ads funded by Raoul’s campaign that claim Harold is against allowing same-sex couples to adopt and foster children. Harold told the Northwest Herald that the claim is false.

“I have stated repeatedly that I believe all couples should adopt, regardless of their sexual orientation,” she said.

Both Harsy and Harold said they could bring an outsider perspective, which would benefit the office.

“I haven’t been wrapped up in the political, legal mess of Chicago,” Harsy said. “I fully understand that what I want to do will make people mad and step on a lot of toes.”

Some of Harsy’s priorities include looking to reduce government pensions and increase penalties for officials who don’t follow Freedom of Information Act laws, he said.

On the opioid crisis, the candidates differ on the best approach the office could take to combat the crisis.

Harsy said he would like to see marijuana legalized so patients can have an alternative to highly addictive drugs.

Harold said she would like to see increased resources for users.

She said she wants to see the attorney general’s office create a database of available treatment beds and more programs that wouldn’t prosecute users who go to law enforcement for help, similar to the “A Way Out” program that has seen success in McHenry County.

“We don’t have time to wait weeks or months when someone is battling addiction,” she said.

Raoul said there isn’t a single solution to solve the multifaceted epidemic.

“Street heroin users didn’t start out as street drug users,” he said. “They started out as pain patients. That is frightening. ... There is no silver bullet to it. We have to explore multiple ways to attack it.”

He said he isn’t sold on the legalization of recreational marijuana because he is concerned about the drug’s potency, as well as potential advertising, flavors and edibles that could attract children to use it.

On gun control, Raoul said he supports a ban on bump stocks, but he did not want to generalize on whether laws should be stricter.

Harold had a similar answer, saying she wants to look at different solutions depending on whether gun violence stems from domestic cases, school incidents or gang violence.

Harsy said he is in favor of “sensible” gun restrictions but would not support a bump stock ban.

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