Gong-Gershowitz, Yoon Vie For 17th State House Seat

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State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz D-17th) flanked by (from left) State Sen. Laura Fine (D-9th), U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9th) and Judge Patricia Fallon at last weeks Women’s March at Jackman Park. (Tom Robb/Journal photo)

Two candidates are squaring off in the race to represent the 17th State House District that serves most of Glenview and portions of Northbrook, Skokie, Morton Grove, Golf, Wilmette and Evanston: Democratic incumbent freshman State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview, and her Republican challenger Yesoe Yoon of Skokie. 

Before becoming a state legislator, Gong-Gershowitz was an immigration and civil rights attorney.

Yoon works as the anchor and host of a bilingual Asian American news program.

Yesoe Yoon, Republican candidate for 17th State House Rep. at an early Primary Election voting event in March at Glenview Village Hall. (Tom Robb/Journal photo)

Gong-Gershowitz said her top priority is to help Illinois recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of health and the economic fallout that has followed.

“We are facing an existential crisis on every front,” she said. “(COVID-19) has exposed inequalities in healthcare and the economy.” She said state leaders would need to handle multiple tasks at once to rectify the situation.

She said science, not politics, must drive decisions about dealing with the pandemic, even when they are difficult. She pointed to Wisconsin’s high positivity rate, saying taking measures now would prevent stronger mitigation later.

Yoon said while she believes people should wear masks and distance at least six-feet apart, businesses should be open. 

On the severity of COVID-19, Yoon said the death rate for the common flu is higher than for COVID-19. She said she believes there are treatments for COVID-19, including hydroxychloroquine, a treatment touted by President Donald Trump.

On hydroxychloroquine, Dr. Anthony Fauci was quoted by NBC News in July as saying, “On trials that are valid, that were randomized and controlled in the proper way, all of those trials show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or COVID-19.” Although the influenza virus has a vaccine, COVID-19 does not. 

Yoon’s website takes aim at Gong-Gershowitz, saying she supports Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, a favorite target of Republicans. 

“I’ve been clear on this issue,” Gong-Gershowitz said, “calling for him (Madigan) to step down is the right thing to do.” In a late September interview, Gong-Gershowitz said Madigan should step down both in his role as House speaker and as head of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Yoon said Gong-Gershowitz took money from Madigan in 2018 and said, if she believes he should step down from his leadership positions, should return the money she got from Madigan. Yoon was not clear whether those funds came from Madigan directly or from the state Democratic Party he leads.

On the proposed Illinois Fair Tax amendment (a referendum on the Tuesday, Nov. 3 Presidential Election ballot), Yoon says she opposes an amendment.

Gong-Gershowitz said she voted to have it put to a referendum of the people. “As a voter, it’s unfair to expect a bus driver and a billionaire to pay the same tax rate,” she said, adding that it would not tax retirement income and would relieve pressure on property taxes to pay for education.

A statement on Yoon’s website on the Fair Tax says, “The state is drowning in debt and the high taxes are out of control. People and businesses are moving out. It is unsustainable. I will work towards eliminating the root causes of out of control spending. I want Illinois to be a desirable state to work, live and do business in.”

The two candidates also differ on the issue of abortion.

Yoon, strongly pro-life, said the issue of abortion is the reason she entered the race. She called abortion “killing babies” and that it is wrong. She pointed to a women’s health bill sponsored by Gong-Gershowitz as a reason for her run.  

Gong-Gershowitz says she is pro-choice. “It’s not a question of what you believe. Do you trust your government or women? I trust women.”

On the issue of immigration, Gong-Gershowitz said she passed three bills to provide protections to undocumented immigrants, two of which she said were specifically aimed at protecting immigrant children.  

Yoon said she is an immigrant and takes issue with illegal immigration. She said the immigration system is not broken, as some claim.

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October 27, 2020 at 04:21PM

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