Gov. Pat Quinn, speaking to a room full of suburban Democrats, said on Sunday that one key to future prosperity for the state is that everyone be given the opportunity to share in the success.
"Our state will move forward only if everybody's in, and no one's left out," he said.
Quinn was the keynote speaker at a meet-the-candidates breakfast and fundraiser hosted Sunday by Schaumburg Area Democrats, a political group that raises awareness of Democratic candidates. Quinn, like the rest of those who spoke during the breakfast, faces an election battle in 2014.
The governor touched on a number of issues he plans to tackle in the near future. He talked about the need for a pension reform plan that is fair to both retirees and state taxpayers. He stressed the importance of investing in education, particularly in the state's community colleges. And he said he wants to raise the state's minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to "at least" $10 per hour.
"If you work 40 hours a week, you shouldn't have to live in poverty," Quinn said.
Four Republicans have lined up for the chance to oppose Quinn next year: state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa and Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner. The primary election will be held March 18, with the general election on Nov. 4.
"It promises to be a tough fight, but we'll be ready for it," Quinn said.
Other politicians who spoke during Sunday's breakfast included current Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who will run next year for state comptroller; state Sen. Mike Frerichs, who will run for state treasurer; state Rep. Michelle Mussman, who will run for a third term in the 56th House District; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Clerk David Orr, both of whom will try to retain their posts; and a slate of three candidates for the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago -- incumbent Frank Avila and newcomers Josina Morita and Tim Bradford.
A common theme for Sunday's speakers was that the Northwest suburban area isn't quite as Republican as conventional wisdom might suggest.
"Look at people from here that have been sent to Springfield, people like (state Rep.) Fred Crespo and Michelle Mussman, or (state Sen.) Michael Noland," said Mike Cudzik, Democratic committeeman for Schaumburg Township. "This is becoming a 'blue' area."