Republican candidate state Sen. Darren Bailey and incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker debated for the final time on Tuesday night – October 18, with the November election less than a month away.
The candidates discussed several topics, including crime, Chicago, and the performance of the Department of Child and Family Services and its director Marc Smith. The department has had significant issues despite budget increases in the past three years.
Bailey said the department needs to be addressed at all levels to succeed.
“We are going to start finding and taking applications for all of these agencies,” Bailey said. “I will tell you this, DCFS must be rebuilt from the ground up because it is failing our children all across the state.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker stood behind Smith, who has been held in contempt of court nine times for failing to find suitable placements for children in DCFS care.
“Governors firing the head of the agency does not solve anything,” Pritzker said. “You actually have to go in and fix the problems. Governors for twenty years did not do that. We are doing that.”
The pair also were asked where they stand on education in Illinois and what can be done to improve classroom standards.
Pritzker brought up Bailey’s handling of the Full Armor Christian Academy, which Bailey founded in 2016. The school has been under attack by the Pritzker campaign for pro-slavery language found in a textbook.
Pritzker said his opponent would ruin schools in Illinois if elected governor.
“The fact is that Darren Bailey has proven that he would be dangerous for our kids, for our parents, for our communities, if he were put in charge of public education,” the governor said. “We need to make sure he does not come anywhere near the Governor’s office. ”
Bailey said cutting costs from the top would benefit the schools.
“What I stand for is getting rid of the administrative bloat that exists in our schools,” Bailey said. “Chicago Public Schools spend 29,000 dollars per student in their failed education, and Governor Pritzker wants to give them more money.”
The general election will be held on Nov. 8. Early voting is underway.
This article originally appeared on The Center Square.