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Kennedy picks running mate who lost son to Chicago gun violence in June

During the three months since his 23-year-old son was shot and killed in Woodlawn, government reform activist Ra Joy has sought out advice on moving forward with his life.

“I actively sought out individuals who had experienced the sudden dramatic loss of a loved one to gun violence. Talked to a lot of people,” Joy said.

Among those he spoke with was Chris Kennedy. The Democratic candidate for governor is the son of Robert F. Kennedy, who was slain in a 1968 run for the presidency, and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.

Those conversations evolved to the point that Thursday, Joy will be formally announced as the lieutenant governor candidate running alongside Kennedy.

The pairing of Kennedy and Joy, an African-American who is executive director of Change Illinois, brings a heightened focus on the issue of crime to the Democratic governor primary campaign. Their personal losses also could resonate with families in South and West Side neighborhoods afflicted by the gun violence that has racked Chicago.

Xavier Joy was killed near the University of Chicago in June just blocks from his home, apparently by someone trying to steal his cellphone. He had expressed an interest in a political career.

Speaking to the Tribune on the eve of the campaign’s formal announcement, Ra Joy, 44, acknowledged his son’s death played a role in his decision to seek the political post.

“This is a decision that provides me an opportunity to turn poison into medicine and to turn pain into purpose,” he said. “There are a lot of people suffering in our state and they need a stronger voice in Springfield.”

“This is an urgent issue now for me,” he added. “This is an urgent issue for our state and it’s an issue that is close to Chris, and I really appreciate the fact that he’s about solutions. In addition to acknowledging problems, it’s how do we solve them and this is one…

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