EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of profiles of candidates in Illinois.
As he begins his first political campaign across the state of Illinois, the gubernatorial hopeful Grayson “Kash” Jackson says his campaign platform of individual and economic freedom gives voters a third-party choice from the two mainstream political parties.
“I think people have really caught on to the fact that the two mainstream political parties will utilize whatever speaking points they need to for a political advantage,” Jackson said. “People have caught onto that game and are fed up with it and they’re now seeking something different.”
Jackson was selected among three candidates as the gubernatorial nominee of the Libertarian Party of Illinois during a state convention on March 3.
Jackson grew up in Bossier City, Louisiana, and at the age of 17 he joined the U.S. Navy where he served for 20 years. He is the father of three children and received an associate degree in marine engineering at Coastline Community College. He is currently working on completing his bachelor’s in criminal justice through Columbia College of Missouri.
During his time in the Navy, Jackson received multiple personal and unit awards including Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Military Outstanding Service Medal, among others.
“As Libertarians, we are fiscally responsible, and I don’t want to say fiscally conservative as Republicans do because quite frankly they’re not conservative. Oftentimes we see a tremendous amount of crony capitalism and corporate welfare at the hands of the Republican Party,” Jackson said. “On the opposite side of the spectrum, we see the Democratic Party fail their voting base through social welfare programs.
“The Libertarian Party, while we are very socially compassionate, we are much more fiscally responsible than the other two parties,” he said.
“Adherence to the nonaggression principle which means not utilizing cohesion, force, or the threats of force to coerce compliance with moral laws,” he added.
Jackson said that Illinois must first address the mountainous issue of looming pensions that continue to draw a tremendous amount of burden on Illinois’ citizens.
“We’re hovering somewhere in between $130 to $230 billion in unfunded pensions and that is a tremendous cost on passed onto citizens, their families and future generations. We must get that under control and I believe that the best solution has been identified by the Illinois Policy Institute in their 2018 budget proposal,” he said.
“I believe that it lies within incorporating a 401k for all future employees by bringing into light a tier-three program and allowing tier-two employees the ability to opt into that program. By doing so, the prediction is that we’d be able to be 90 percent funded with our state pensions by 2047.”
To Jackson, the second largest piece to achieving economic freedom is addressing property taxes.
“We hover around a 2.3 tax percentage and it’s astronomical that between 2000 and 2015 that the total number of property taxes collected doubled, but household income only grew about 31 percent in that same period,” he said.
“That adds another tremendous burden on Illinois citizens. Instead of politicians just arbitrarily raising property taxes, force them to tie that into how healthy their community is. If state GDP is growing and we’re doing well economically, then OK, it stands to reason that citizens if they so choose in their districts to raise those taxes.
“I don’t want to see the mismanagement in economic areas any longer and we must put the power back into the hands of the voters,” he added.
Jackson said that he applauds students who get an education at colleges and universities in Illinois as they reinforce their abilities to make a meaningful impact on society but that the state has undervalued trade schools.
“I think trades are something that are more appealing and actually very viable for young men and women coming out of high school. We need to really bolster more of our trades programs that have taken a significant downturn because I don’t think we really appreciate how much the need we have for these types of skills and labor force,” he said.
“Whether we’re talking about electricians or plumbers or mechanics, I have a lot of friends that work in these fields and they make really, really good money for not having gone to a four-year school and not having a bachelor’s degree.”
He continued to say what makes the Libertarian Party and his platform the best to lead the state is that Democrats and Republicans have had decades to turn Illinois around and have not fixated on that.
“We’re the only party that seeks to maximize individual freedom and minimize government, we want to do both. We are the only party that does not advocate for writing legislation to legislate our own morality into your home,” Jackson said.
“They want to remove your rights away by passing laws that actually impact how you choose to live your life, your home and operate your business. We want to maximize freedom and that means ridding ourselves of unconstitutional laws that infringe upon your natural right to self-ownership and operate your business the way you see fit.”
Jackson said his activism, such as standing up for Native American rights at the Dakota Access Pipeline and fighting to reform family law and the judicial system, gives him support among young people.
“I think I really resonate with the younger generation because they see somebody much like themselves who is fighting to make a better way for themselves and future generations. The skill sets that I have and the passion that I have for people makes me the most qualified candidate to be the governor of Illinois.”