Activist Tio Hardiman Wants To ‘Turn The State Around’ As Governor | WBEZ
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Activist Tio Hardiman Wants To ‘Turn The State Around’ As Governor

Longtime Chicago activist Tio Hardiman is running for Illinois governor for a second time.

The former CeaseFire Illinois director ran against then-incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn in the 2014 Democratic primary and garnered 28 percent of the vote. He’s running this year in the March 20 primary and said Tuesday on Morning Shift that he wants to “turn the state around.”

“We have a 20/20 plan, which represents a perfect vision to lead the state forward,” Hardiman said. “And I’m running for governor for the poor, the working class, and the middle-class people here in Illinois because we all deserve a fair chance at success.”

Hardiman explained his plan and also answered listeners’ questions on topics ranging from reducing violence in Chicago to managing incentives for businesses throughout the state. Here are some interview highlights.

On reducing violence

Tio Hardiman: No other candidate running for governor understands gun violence like Tio Hardiman. This is a two-fold plan: We must work harder with ATF and state police to intercept illegal gun trafficking.

But secondly — and this is a non-traditional approach here — 85 percent of the killings that occur in Chicago happen in the black community. I plan to organize young African-American men like never before and allow them to address the issues in their own community. We need intellectual leaders, business leaders, and we need young brothers and sisters from the community at large, and that’s how we will actually bring the killings down by 50 percent.

Economics are a part of the plan too, but I want to say this and make it clear: A lot of the killings is all about reputation, disrespect, some of it is gang violence. A lot of it isn’t drug related. People think it is, but it’s really about people growing up in communities where you’ve had people who need to change the way they think and the way they look at one another. So it’s going to take black leadership to reduce the killings in Chicago.

I’m not against the police, but the police can’t even solve murders. There’s a 16 percent* homicide clearance rate right now. So we need more help other than just a special program. We need black men to take responsibility for their own community.

On pensions and tax revenue

Hardiman: We should allow some new employees to invest in 401(k)s, and the state will match some of that to take the burden off the state 20, 30 years down the road.

For the pensions, we have to pay. We have to find new revenue to offset some of the yearly pension payments, like the $9 billion [per year interest]. That’s why I support the progressive tax and I support HB 453, which is the financial transaction tax on transactions that take place at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Chicago Board of Options, and the Chicago Board of Trade. That tax can bring in another $3 billion in new revenue. The progressive tax is going to take a constitutional amendment, so it’s going to take a little time.

Plus, I’m in favor of decriminalizing and legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana. Therefore, we can raise a few more billion dollars that way, and use some of that money to support programs in Illinois and to also offset some of the yearly pension payments.

On business subsidies

Hardiman: The plan is to make sure we empower small businesses in Illinois because small businesses represent the backbone of Illinois. I agree with raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but I plan to have a structure with that because a lot of small businesses will not be able to stay in business — it may hurt them more. So as governor, I plan to provide small businesses with subsidies and more incentives when we raise the minimum wage.

We have to restructure some of the agreements we have with corporations. If our tax revenue is down because of the incentives and programs we have, that’s not right. If you have Fortune 500 companies that are making astronomical amounts of profits, then we should pull back some of the subsidies. Some of the big corporations should understand that. And some of the smaller businesses cannot survive or thrive because we’re giving too much to the bigger businesses.

* WBEZ reported this week that Chicago Police cleared 17.2 percent of 2017 murders during the calendar year.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire segment.

Editor’s note: Chicago Public Media receives philanthropic support from The Pritzker Foundation. J.B. Pritzker, who is campaigning for governor in the Democratic Primary, is not involved with the foundation and does not contribute to it.

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