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Three Democrats are running for Congress in the new, bluer 13th District. Here’s where they stand on gun violence, reparations, and immigration

A Black man, a white man and a white woman all look into their webcams during the debate.
From left: Democratic candidates David Palmer, Ellis Taylor, Nikki Budzinski.

CHAMPAIGN – The three Democratic contenders for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District faced off on Tuesday, revealing different approaches to gun violence, reparations for slavery, immigration and more.

Tuesday marked the first public forum with the three candidates. The progressive Jewish organization Bend the Arc hosted the event online.

Illinois Democrats redrew the Congressional districts last year. The new 13th District is left-leaning and stretches from Champaign to East St. Louis.

Nikki Budzinski says no to explicit reparations

Veteran Democrat Nikki Budzinski says she doesn’t think reparations are a good idea, compared to better education, housing and job programs.

One of the issues that divided the candidates was reparations for slavery. Veteran Democrat Nikki Budzinski stood apart as the only one of the three not to support creating a committee to study the idea.

“Slavery is a stain on our country that we can never blot out. But I do not believe that H.R. 40 is the correct approach,” Budzinski said.

“I believe it is better to focus our efforts on job opportunities, making healthcare affordable and accessible, access to affordable housing, providing workforce training and educational opportunities.”

H.R. 40 would establish a commission to study the impacts of slavery and discrimination on African Americans and suggest ways to remedy those impacts.

Budzinski has worked with unions on creating clean energy jobs and helped Gov. J.B. Pritzker set a $15 minimum wage. Most recently, she held a top position in President Biden’s Office of Management and Budget.

She originally entered the race to beat incumbent Republican Rodney Davis. Illinois Democrats redrew Davis into the new, more conservative 15th district, where he will run against fellow Republican Mary Miller in the primary.

Ellis Taylor advocates for open borders in first public appearance

Political newcomer Ellis Taylor says he wants open borders.

Ellis Taylor is a full-time, community college student. He has not campaigned much yet and joked during Tuesday’s debate that people didn’t know who he was until the event.

During the debate, Taylor advocated for open borders and no limits on immigration.

“[Immigrants] are just people who moved. The fact that we even have to have a conversation about how many people we allow in implies that some people don’t deserve to live within our borders, within an imaginary line that we drew,” Taylor said.

Taylor is a gay, trans man. He said those identities, combined with his experience living in poverty, motivated him to run for Congress.

David Palmer looks to St. Louis for gun violence solutions

David Palmer of Champaign says he’s looking to St. Louis for gun violence solutions.

Gun violence prevention would be one of David Palmer’s top priorities if he’s elected as Champaign’s next representative to Congress.

Palmer is a former basketball player, now financial advisor.

Palmer said on Tuesday that he sees St. Louis as a lesson in how to reduce gun violence.

“You look across the country, gun violence numbers are skyrocketing. In St. Louis, they’re down 25 percent. That’s due to involving a social services component, training people who are in the community to stop things before they happen,” Palmer said.

Palmer worked in Champaign as a director at the Boys and Girls Club before his current position with Country Financial.

Watch the full forum online here.

Three Democrats and four Republicans are campaigning for the 13th District seat. Voters will narrow down the candidates during the primary on June 28.

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.

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Emily Hays

Emily Hays started at WILL in October 2021 after three-plus years in local newsrooms in Virginia and Connecticut. She has won state awards for her housing coverage at Charlottesville Tomorrow and her education reporting at the New Haven Independent. Emily graduated from Yale University where she majored in History and South Asian Studies.

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