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Candidates talk attorney general race

3 will face off in Nov. 6 race to replace Lisa Madigan

Three candidates will face off in the Nov. 6 election in a race to take over the attorney general's office.

Libertarian Bubba Harsy, Democrat Kwame Raoul and Republican Erika Harold all met with the Northwest Herald editorial board to voice their opinions on criminal justice reform, the opioid epidemic, consumer fraud and gun rights.

Raoul, a lifelong Hyde Park resident, has been a practicing lawyer for nearly 25 years. He is also a senator in the 13th District and has served in the position since the seat was made vacant by former United States President Barack Obama.

Harold, of Champaign, is a practicing attorney, Harvard Law graduate and serves on a variety of boards including Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality, the Trinity International University’s Board of Regents and Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, according to her website.

Harsy, of DuQuoin, is a general practice lawyer who served as a legislative aide in the Maryland General Assembly while attending law school. Harsy also worked at the United States Department of Education, and interned at the United States Senate, according to his website.

Harold and Raoul have clashed in the past due to political ads funded by Raoul's campaign that claim Harold is against allowing same-sex couples to adopt and foster children. Harold told the Northwest Herald the claim is false.

"I have stated repeatedly that I believe all couples should adopt regardless of their sexual orientation," she said.

Both Harsy and Harold said a benefit they could bring to the office was an outsider perspective.

"I haven't been wrapped up in the political, legal mess of Chicago," Harsy said. "I fully understand that what I want to do will make people mad and step on a lot of toes."

Some of Harsy's priorities would include looking to reduce government pensions and increase penalties for officials who don't follow Freedom of Information Act laws, he said.

On the opioid crisis, the candidates differed on the best approach the office could take to combat the crisis.

Harsy said he would like to see marijuana legalized, so patients could have an alternative to highly addictive drugs.

Harold said she would like to see increased resources for users.

She said she wanted to see the attorney general's office create a database of available treatment beds and more programs that wouldn't prosecute users who go to law enforcement for help, similar to the "A Way Out" program that has seen success in McHenry County.

"We don't have time to wait weeks or months when someone is battling addiction," she said.

Raoul said that there isn't a single solution to solve the multifaceted epidemic.

"Street herion users didn't start out as street drug users," he said. "They started out as pain patients. That is frightening. ... There is no silver bullet to it. We have to explore multiple ways to attack it."

He said he isn't sold on the legalization of recreational marijuana because he was concerned about the drug's potency and potential advertising, flavors and candy edibles that could attract children to use it.

On gun control, Raoul said he supported a ban on bump stocks and didn't want to generalize on whether laws should be stricter. Harold had a similar answer and said she wanted to look at different solutions depending on whether the gun violence stemmed from domestic, school or gang violence. Harsy said he was in favor of "sensible" gun restrictions but wouldn't support a bump stock ban.

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