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Why did I run for Governor of Illinois?
Illinois is home and home is worth fighting for: We have everything going for us, but we’ve seen nothing but bad politicians and bad policy out of Springfield.
For decades, the career politicians and insiders looked out for special interests instead of the people. They let the lobbyists write the laws and stuck you with the bill. It’s why Illinois now has the highest property taxes in the nation, hasn’t had a truly balanced budget in over a decade and has a pension debt of $170 billion.
This is not the future that we imagined for Illinois. This is not who we are. We are not people who see problems and do nothing. We are not people who turn away from each other.
We cannot give up on an Illinois where all children receive an excellent education regardless of their zip code; an Illinois that cares for those in need; an Illinois that promotes an open economy where newcomers and entrepreneurs can realize their dreams; an Illinois where anyone who works hard can find rising wages and expanding opportunities; an Illinois where people want to lay down roots and raise families.
We need real reform more than ever, and I need you help to deliver it. Together, let’s bring real change to Illinois so we can provide our children and grandchildren the futures they deserve.
I was born and raised in Illinois. A self-made businessman, I am truly committed to turning around Illinois. My vision is to create a more prosperous state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
My grandfather was a Swedish-speaking, small-town dairyman who taught me about fishing, hunting, the value of hard work and the importance of giving back. My first job was flipping burgers and my second job was parking cars. I worked my way through Dartmouth College, where I graduated with top honors. Then I went on to earn an M.B.A. from Harvard University.
I began my professional career at then startup investment firm Golder, Thoma, Cressey (later GTCR). As one of its earliest partners, I helped build the firm into one of the most successful and respected businesses in Illinois. GTCR has been trusted for decades to oversee the retirement investments of first responders, teachers and other Illinois workers. I created tremendous returns for GTCR – more than doubling the stock market’s performance – while providing exceptional value for taxpayers.
I have reinvested my business success back into the state that I love through support of education, local hospitals and community organizations. I have been a key supporter of projects such as Chicago’s new Red Cross regional headquarters, the YMCA in Little Village, Illinois, charter high schools, and scholarship programs for disadvantaged students. I have served on the boards of numerous civic organizations including The Noble Network of Charter Schools, World Business Chicago and the University of Illinois Chancellor’s Strategic Advisory Board.
Despite everything, I am still the same man I always have been. I drive a 20-year-old camper van, I wear an $18 watch and I stay in the cheapest hotel room I can find when I’m on the road. I hunt birds, I hike, I love riding my Harley, and I jump at every opportunity to fish.
I am the proud father of six children – two boys and four girls. My wife Diana is the love of my life. Together, Diana and I have devoted a tremendous amount of our personal time and resources to philanthropic and community causes across the state and nation. Our greatest mission is to improve education across Illinois. Diana is the president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a non-profit dedicated to providing all children access to quality care and education throughout the first five years of life.