I met with Republican candidate James Taylor Sr. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, way down in Hopkins Park. I interviewed him at the office of Kankakee County Board Member John Howard.
Taylor talked extensively about race and even acknowledged the possibility that he might be labeled a racist because of his beliefs. Regardless, the candidate focused heavily on the plight of young African-American males in poor communities and feels improving their situation will curb youth violence.
One of Taylor's biggest concerns was the poverty-stricken municipalities of Pembroke and Hopkins Park, which he feels have been ignored.
Visit James Taylor's candidate profile on Patch to watch the extended video of the interview.
It may seem strange to call the 2nd District itself an issue, but Taylor said the district needs more attention going into the election. Taylor added he thinks candidates are too concerned with what they will do on the national and even international level, rather than finding ways to address the concerns of their constituents here in Illinois.
But this is where Taylor's gets into divisive territory. Taylor's focus regarding the 2nd District seems to specifically revolve around bettering the lives of young African-American males, and he described his key concerns within that context.
Like Robin Kelly, Taylor has placed arms control at the top of his list of priorities. He cited youth violence among African-American males as a major issue within the district, referring to parts of the 2nd District as the "killing field."
Many schools are not being run fairly, according to Taylor. The candidate said there are too many individuals running schools that have no concern for young African-American males. Taylor said schools need more black men teaching, who can relate to the many black students in the schools.
"We apparently are part of the Democratic tribe and it doesn't matter what happens to us. We're going to be loyal to that tribe, and that tribe has not been loyal to the African-American community." - On African-Americans in the 2nd District generally favoring Democratic candidates.
"Many of our schools are being run by individuals who have absolutely no concern for African-American males. Look at the number of African-American male teachers and you look at the number of the African-American males who have failed, there's a correlation. We need some black men in these classrooms and we don't have enough of them." - On education in the 2nd District.
"There's nothing that you're going to hunt with that assault weapon. I'm a hunter. I don't want any meat that's been shot 25 times, because I've got to take 25 pieces of lead out of it." - On the need for a ban on assault weapons.
Parts of the 2nd District are being ignored, according to Taylor. He criticized Debbie Halvorson for not paying enough attention to poor communities like Pembroke and Hopkins Park when she was a state senator, then U.S. representative, over the area. He criticized state Sen. Toi Hutchinson for the same reason.
Taylor's honest take on the district could gain him support among black Republican voters who are watching this race closely. At the same time, his laser-beam focus on helping young black males could offend or turn off other voters.
What do you think? Is James Taylor right to focus his attention on young black males in the 2nd District? Tell us in the comments!
NEXT: Anthony Beale explains why he feels bringing more big-box stores to the 2nd District is a good thing.
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