After everything State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) has experienced since federal prosecutors indicted him in 2012, he said he isn’t worried about losing the support or respect from his constituents because the majority of them have been there for him the entire time.
“I may have lost the support of some, but the overwhelming number have prayed for me,” he said.
“Just being human, not everyone’s going to like everyone, and so I’m not perfect, but even before the indictment, I had people that did not like me.”
Ford said he had been praying for the felony bank fraud charges to be dropped since he was indicted in November of 2012.
“I was waiting for the day for all the charges to drop, every day I was waiting,” he said.
His prayers were finally answered Monday when he took a plea deal. The 17 felony charges were dropped. Ford plead guilty to a single misdemeanor tax charge violation that was from 2007. According to NBCChicago.com, he had “over-reported the cost of rehab work to a property on the 5700 block of West Erie Street, resulting in a tax savings of $3,782.”
Even with everything going on, Ford said he never once stopped focusing on the community.
He said his passion for helping others is natural and really started when he was young.
“I was born to want to touch people,” said Ford, who even as a child, would shovel snow, cut grass, recycle bottles and cans to help his family financially. He grew up in Austin and Englewood after his grandmother adopted him at birth. Ford never knew his father and his mother was just a teenager from the Cabrini-Green housing projects when he was born.
He attended Catholic schools growing up and chose Niles College Seminary, before Loyala University, where he became the first in his family to attend a four-year university.
Growing up Catholic also played apart in his character development and need to help others, he said.
“The Catholic church is supposed to be all about social justice and so that’s one thing that I believe in,” said Ford. “I don’t think the Catholic church is doing enough to deal with the problems, especially in the African American community.”
As an elected official he has been able to really make an impact in the Black community. Ford has made it his mission to help ex-offenders get jobs, eliminating barriers that may have prevented them from getting hired or even being considered in the first place.
“In the Austin community and just all over the city, the country and in my family, all you hear are people saying I can not get a job because I have a background, and that is one of the number one problems in the African American community, the criminal justice system,” said Ford.
Passing legislation that benefits those with a criminal background has been one of the things Ford is known for. As chairman of the Small Business Empowerment and Restorative Justice Committees, he helped establish a micro loan program for eligible ex-offenders who want to start their own business. Ford also made sure that certain Class 3 and 4 non-violent offenses in someone’s criminal record are sealed. Removing that information can give someone a better chance at getting a job.
Despite being under scrutiny and defending himself constantly, Ford said everything he has gone through has just made him stronger.
“It hasn’t set me, back but what it has done is it has gotten me closer to the people,” he said.
“I am more in debt to society because of the prayers that were offered during probably one of the toughest moments of my life,“ he said. “With that I have a new commitment to serve even more.”
With the misdemeanor, Ford could possibly get up to one year in prison and receive a $100,000 fine. Sentencing will happen in November, just a few days after the general election, according to the Chicago Tribune.
To learn more about Ford’s community involvement or to receive a daily listing of job openings he shares, visit his website.