Chicago activist Tio Hardiman is back on the campaign trail with the Illinois governor’s mansion square in his sights for the second time in four years.
Hardiman’s previous run for governor in 2014 revealed the former director of CeaseFire Illinois, an anti-violence program based in Chicago, had a solid well of support throughout the state when he squared-off against then governor and Democratic Party incumbent Pat Quinn in the March 18, 2014, primary. Although Hardiman would ultimately fail to receive the nomination, he finished with 125,500 votes or 28.1 percent of the vote statewide compared to Quinn’s 321,818 votes or 71.9 percent, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. He would fare about the same in Cook County where he received 19,442 votes or 20.31 percent compared to Quinn’s 76,263 votes or 79.69 percent, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
Hardiman’s path to Springfield may have just become a little clearer as Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) recently dropped out of the race leaving J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, State Sen. Daniel Biss, among others on a crowded ticket.
Hardiman, never one to mince words, was direct when explaining why he decided to run for gubernatorial office again.
“I’m really the last great hope for my people, African-American people,” said Hardiman. “The reason why I talk about the Black community is because everyone wants the Black vote. The Black vote is a hustle. Black death is a hustle. The governorship has been dominated by White men since the inception of the state of Illinois and it’s time to change the narrative.”
Among Hardiman’s early campaign promises are: reducing the number of killings in Chicago by 50 percent, reducing the African-American unemployment statewide, balancing the state budget, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, ensuring equal pay for women, and more.
“The majority of Illinois is working class, middle class, and poor people, and if we supported someone from our own population, from our own group, we would win this election by a landslide victory,” said Hardiman.
Hardiman said there’s “false leadership” in Illinois as he called the state itself strong. He said he wants to support schools with additional funding and bring an end to non-productivity. He said in the face of under enrolled schools, he would suggest “downsizing schools” instead of closing them as a means to meet the needs of the students.
“Every year students in Chicago have to wonder if they’re going to start school or not,” said Hardiman. “That’s called psychological warfare, and what’s happening is these wealthy people cannot identify with a young guy worried if he’s going to start school on time; but because of political gang banging, the kids continue to be in the crossfire.”
Hardiman said he would make Illinois more attractive to the nation’s best teachers with the hopes of improving education. He said for starters he would protect teachers’ pensions, increase salaries for teachers, and more. He called teachers the backbone of the nation for what they provide to children.
Hardiman was adamant about creating jobs throughout Illinois and not just Chicago. He said with regards to the proposed Amazon headquarters coming to Chicago, it should be located in the Austin, Englewood or South Shore communities or in East St. Louis, Ill.
“Those communities need some type of economic development, economic uplifting,” said Hardiman. “It would be an honor for Amazon and other Fortune 500 companies to open up a location in one of those communities because they keep talking about their concern about the plight of the people in the inner city; then let us help the inner city right in their neighborhoods.”
Hardiman revealed his economic stimulus plan, Hardiman-Avery 2020 plan, which featured various methods to produce new revenue for the state. He said if elected through these taxes, it would total in 20 billion in new revenue in four years and that he will also take a “closer look” at the revenue generated by the state lottery.
“The 2020 plan is all wrapped up in pushing the Financial Transaction Tax here in Illinois, which can bring in three billion dollars in new revenue, and supporting the Progressive Tax, which means we would tax people according to their income status,” said Hardiman.
Hardiman said with the revenue generated from his 2020 plan, he would use $50 million to fund capital construction projects in central and southern Illinois, open “state-of-the-art” mental health facilities in every county in the state, and provide [help for] small businesses to stay in business as the minimum wage is raised to $15.
Hardiman said he wants to help ex-offenders returning home become productive members of society by providing them with wrap around services. He said counseling, job training, mental health support services, and emotional services are part of his plan to reduce recidivism. He said he wants to reduce the number of inmates in the Illinois Dept. of Corrections from 52,000 to 30,000 statewide.
“When someone has been incarcerated for a number of years, when they’re released, they shouldn’t just be released to go back into society and do what they need to do; they need more support services to have all the tools they need to be successful,” said Hardiman.