Bruce Rauner Visits Murray Center

May 1, 2014

Bruce Rauner Visits Murray Center

By Leigh Williams, Contributing Writer

Bruce Rauner, Republican candidate for governor, vowed on Saturday that, if elected, Murray Center will remain open. Rauner, who toured the facility then met with the public and members of the Murray Parents Association at Centralia City Hall, said it was “crystal clear” that any move to close the center dedicated to the care of the developmentally disabled was a political gambit and “playing games with your kids’ lives.”

“I’m absolutely keeping Murray Center open,” Rauner said.

The gubernatorial candidate was introduced to the group by Murray Parents Association President Rita Winkeler and expressed how impressed he was with the facility and its staff.

“I was stunned how wonderful the place is. State Government usually doesn’t do too much well, but this is a place that was warm, embracing, and encouraging,” Rauner told the standing room only crowd. “I wish all facilities connected to our state government were so wonderful.”

Rauner said he kept an open mind regarding the possible closure of the facility but after touring the center his decision was evident.

“It’s crystal clear that it should stay open,” he said. The father of six listened and addressed the concerns of many parents whose children call Warren G. Murray Developmental Center home.

“I love Illinois. I was born and raised here. I raised my children here, and I built my business here. I never want my kids to have to leave to find a better life and I don’t want your kids to be forced out of a facility that they need,” Rauner said. Rauner spoke of the economic impact of the closure as well as the social impact on families, saying that it is the responsibility of a “moral society” to care for its neediest citizens.

Centralia Mayor Tom Ashby reiterated that the fight to save the facility centered on protecting its residents. “We got this news over two years ago, and it struck this area very hard. We have about 260 citizens out there.… We want to keep our citizens in Centralia.” said Ashby.

Rauner said the area is suffering because of high unemployment and the “hostile” business environment in the state. Murray Center is estimated to generate direct labor income in the health and social services field of just more than $39 million with an additional $5.3 million in indirect income.

Following the meeting, Rauner attended a fund raiser at Arizona Joe’s where he was presented a Save Murray Center shirt and hat and made an undisclosed donation to the parents association.