Get to know Rep. Kam Buckner
(Published April 30, 2019)
By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer
After State Rep. Christian Mitchell accepted appointment as deputy governor in January, he left his seat open with two more years to go in his term.
Democratic committeemen from the 10 wards in Illinois House District 26 appointed Kambium “Kam” Buckner to the position. Buckner is a former college football player who holds a law degree. He has worked for a number of politicians though had never held political office. Buckner will be up for election in 2020 in the Democratic primary and his term ends in 2021.
How has the session been going? What are you proudest to work on this term?
This session has been highlighted by the desire to tackle some very big ticket items. The raising of the minimum wage in the very early days of the session set a tone of ambitious legislative action that addresses policy issues, much of which are long overdue. I am most proud of my work this session on consumer protection. I have filed legislation that addresses predatory lending that unduly affects our elderly residents. I am also very proud to have worked to create a better atmosphere for Chicago Public School students by co-sponsoring bills to create an elected school board and increase bargaining rights.
More generally, what issues are important to you and what would you like to work on?
As a Chicago Public School alum and the son of a 30-year CPS educator, education is of the utmost importance to me. I think Springfield has to do a better job of supporting school districts. I also am very focused on transportation and infrastructure. Illinois has underfunded our roads, bridges and tunnels for far too long.
You were appointed rather than elected. With the lack of a mandate, does that make it harder to pass legislation?
In my situation, it was important to hit the ground running. It was helpful that I already had a pretty good understanding of the workings of the legislature and the things that I wanted to accomplish.
What inspired you to get into public service?
My parents. My mother was a teacher and her penchant for working for others trickled down to all of her children. My father spent decades as a police officer and the dedication and passion that I saw him exhibit through his work, made it very clear to me that your life’s work should exist in that nuanced spot where your passions, skills and experiences converge with the needs of others.
Looking forward to 2020, do you expect to run for re-election?
Over the years we have seen a major decline in our infrastructure, education and innovation while we have seen increases in people fleeing the state and we have an opportunity, not to make Illinois the state that it used to be, but to give it a chance to be the state it has always deserved to be and I want to be a part of that solution.
Finally, what’s some trivia that’s not well known about you?
Most people are aware of my background in sports, as I played football at the University of Illinois, but they don’t know about my affinity for the performing arts. I took ballet for a number of years as a child and still occasionally sing with a blues band.