BARTONVILLE — Chris Kennedy made a final pitch to Peoria area voters Monday afternoon during a stop at Byerly Aviation.

As part of that, he reminisced about his early days after college, working for Archer Daniels Midland in Peoria, Decatur and elsewhere in the state.

"Those early experiences were super important to me and they kept my interest in feeding people alive," he said, referring to later volunteer work with food banks and the eventual creation of the Top Box Foods not-for-profit that his wife, Sheila, now runs.

The former University of Illinois Board of Trustees chairman praised the recent move to have first-year medical students take classes at the medical school's Peoria campus rather than in Champaign, saying that additional clinic work by those students here allows them to build better relationships with central Illinoisans over a four-year stint in town.

And he returned to key campaign themes including shifting more burden away from local property tax payers and onto the state for funding education in order to steer improvements statewide.

"If we give the world highly educated young people, the world will give us its jobs," Kennedy said.

He also slammed what he called continued inequities in the property tax appeals system and reiterated a call for Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to stop participating in such appeals as a lawyer — and to step down as chairman of the state Democratic Party.

"No great change in American history has ever come without people taking a stand," the son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of John Kennedy said.

His visit was part of a multi-city state tour on Monday. The only other candidate to make a scheduled visit to the area was Democratic rival JB Pritzker.

Gov. Bruce Rauner made an unannounced stop Sunday morning at Sterling Family Restaurant, 4513 N. Sterling Ave., to greet diners alongside U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood.

Chris Kaergard can be reached at ckaergard@pjstar.com or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard