GAC Endorses Tio Hardiman for Governor of Illinois

A couple of weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page which stated, “What questions do the people have for the next Governor of Illinois?” I received various responses, people were wondering what his views were on the “Fight for 15” movement as well as the would-be Governor perspective on unions. So I reached out to Tio Hardiman an activist and adjunct professor who did a lot of ground work with CeaseFire. In 2004 he founded “Violence Interrupters”, which is a program that utilizes ex-gang members and returning citizens to intercept street violence before it happens. According to one PBS Frontline article on CeaseFire,

“In 2008, the Justice Department hired independent researchers to evaluate CeaseFire’s work. The researchers found a 17 to 24 percent decline in actual and attempted shootings at four of the seven sites they surveyed. “I found the statistical results to be as strong as you could hope for,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Wesley G. Sokgan, a political science professor at Northwestern University.”

Now imagine if we had the adequate resources from the state to efficiently duplicate this program in the most violent areas in Chicago. It would definitely be a beautiful thing and a game changer in terms of how we interact with each other on a daily basis. Take a glance at some of the policies he plans and get an insight on the candidate below. And here’s an in-depth study on just how CeaseFire along with Violence Interrupters is: http://cureviolence.org/partners/us-partners/illinois-partners/

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QM: Give us your story on where you’re from, how you got started with CeaseFire and expound on the role of Violence Interrupters.

Tio Hardiman: “Well my name is Tio Hardiman, I’m running for Governor in the State of Illinois and my running mate is Patricia Avery. My background consists of a Masters Degree in Inner City Studies and I’m the former director of CeaseFire Illinois. I’ve sat on various boards throughout the state of Illinois dealing with the public defenders board and federal defenders. I’ve done a lot of work to change some of the conditions in the Illinois Department of Corrections and make the conditions more humane for inmates. I’ve done a lot of work in the field of criminal justice reform and reducing gun violence. I’ve stood up for women’s rights, I’e helped rescue 12 young women from a prostitution ring some years ago. Along with that I’ve intervened and mediated conflicts with thousands of young men and women in the city of Chicago. The list goes on and on, I’m a father a family man doing everything I can do to make things right across the board for everybody. I have about a 25 year history in leadership positions and I’m currently serving as an adjunct professor at Governors State and North Park University. Not only that I’m the President of a non for profit organization called Violence Interrupters, that’s what I’m doing right now and that’s my history at a glance.”

QM: Exactly how did you get started with CeaseFire as far as you activism is concerned?

Tio Hardiman: “I’ve always been a community activist but now I look at myself as more of a seasoned community leader. I grew up in the Avalon Park community on the southside and the Henry Horner projects on the westside. So at an early age I looked up to people that were involved in community activism. People I never really met but I studied the Black Panther Party. I studied their motto and how they stood up against police brutality and excessive force. I wish I would’ve met Huey P. Newton but I was too young at the time, they were much older than I am and those were a group of people I looked up to for some reason. Fred Hampton, you got Bobby Seale, Malcolm X I read all of his books while I was growing up. My uncles introduced me to black leadership and that’s what happened. It just became a second nature for me and I was always interested in standing up for the under dog. I grew up around some pretty tough circumstances, I grew up in the heart of the ghetto. I’ve seen drug addiction up close and personal, I’ve seen violence up close and personal. I’ve seen people go through a lot of changes and started to take a look to see what I could do to help change some of the conditions of all people. I got involved with CeaseFire back in 1999 when we only had about 4 staff back then, and we helped build that program to the highest level ever. I became a household name known as Mr. CeaseFire, people still look at me as Mr. CeaseFire today. I created the Violence Interrupters in 2004 and it became a sensation, so to speak. There was a documentary filmed called “The Interrupters” that kind of went viral and it was on PBS. Basically I can put my hands on several hundred young men that I helped turn their lives around personally. A lot of them are still doing real good , they’ve re-enrolled in school they’re obtaining degrees and living their lives.”

QM: What are your priorities?

Tio Hardiman: “Our priorities are for the state we have a 2020 Plan which represents a Perfect vision to Move the State of Illinois forward. Our plan includes supporting Veterans senior citizens college students People with disabilities women’s rights Children Returning citizens. As well as doing everything we can to open mental health clinics throughout the State of Illinois and reduce unemployment overall. This is the thing unemployment In the African American community Throughout the State of Illinois is 14.2%. The highest in the nation for African American people. Is 43% for African Americans males between the ages of 20 through 24, we have to reduce those numbers. Now unemployment state wide is Around 5%. But no community has been hit as hard as the black community. We have 1.7 million people living in poverty 30% of those people are African American And the list goes on and on. I’m running for governor to support the farmers also. I support the $15 minimum wage increase because people need to have a living wage. People actually need more than $15 but that’s fair just to get started. Another one of our goals is to reduce gun violence by 50% in the State of Illinois. I have a non traditional approach to working with gun violence. I will work with the ATF in state police to intercept Illegal gun trafficking. On the other side I plan on Creating more job opportunities through apprenticeship programs. I plan on hitting the streets myself, And you will never hear another governor say this. I will train and appoint a violence prevention czar that works with me to go out and reduce the shootings and killings In the streets of Chicago East Saint Louis and Peoria Decatur all over the place. I plan to bring all these young men to the table and roll our sleeves up and go to work in order to really put an end to this epidemic known as gun violence that continues to take the lives of so many young men and women.”

QM: What do you say to people who feel like the fight for 15 movement is a joke?

Tio Hardiman: “I can see people seeing why they think that the Fight for 15 movement is a joke based on a couple of reasons. One is that a lot of politicians are going to say they are all for a $15 an hour minimum wage increase but this is the problem. Yes its good to say that, I believe that and I would I would like see that happen, as soon as that bill hits my desk I’ll sign it to make it a reality in State of Illinois. But small businesses will suffer so we have to make sure that we provide small businesses with subsidies and incentives so that they could stay in business even though once we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Now corporations like McDonald’s, of course they can pay $15 an hour and some of these CEOs are making $3500 an hour, so why step on the poor and working class people. So it’s not a joke it’s just going take the will of the people to make it a reality, we don’t have enough people fighting for that $15 minimum wage even though it appears to have a lot of support it’s obvious we need more support. As far as the people that think it’s a joke they need to just stop thinking that way because it can become a reality in Illinois.”

QM: Why do you want to run for Governor?

Tio Hardiman: “Well my name is Tio Hardiman, we say this in my campaign and the T-I-O stands for “Turn It Over”. I want to turn the state over to the people and the people never had the state. We have a governor now, Bruce Rauner who, during a Black History Month event, drank some chocolate milk to show that he supports diversity. I’m getting tired of this mess, I’m running for Governor to combat discrimination. We got racism going on, mass incarceration we have a mass Exodus of people moving from Illinois and Chicago. These billionaires continue to drown out the voices of the working class and poor people and we have to bring an end to this type of nonsense. It’s timeout for these billionaire tactics and strategies that they’re using, they’re dividing the black vote and dropping off money bags in the communities. They’re taking pictures of random black babies and when you look at their websites its black people all over the place, but our conditions have not changed. The thing is you have a few select preachers, these sell-out preachers in Chicago, not all preachers just a few of them. They’re having these backroom deals with these people running for Governor and some of these elected officials are doing the same thing because its about money, money, money. The love of money. We have to turn this type of narrative around and bring it back to the people. Instead of individual gain I’m running to show the state that we have a leader that believes in collective gain. See everybody is going to have a seat at the table and an opportunity for success with Patricia Avery and Tio Hardiman.”

QM: What’s your take on legalizing and decriminalizing cannabis?

Tio Hardiman: “I’m a proponent and a supporter of legalizing and decriminalizing small amounts of recreational usage of marijuana, for the tax money and to commute sentences where people were a locked up to for marijuana related crimes.  They shouldn’t be locked up anyway, this is a non violent crime. They’ve legalized marijuana in Colorado and they had a surplus, a 6.2 billion  surplus in the state of Colorado. Not just because of the marijuana but they’ve been making a lot of tax money which is a good thing for the state. I’d like to lead the state Illinois to a surplus sooner than later to write but it is not gonna happen because these billionaires create this catastrophic type of atmosphere in a state. Everything is falling down so they can set themselves apart and prop themselves up as a savior. But yes, I as governor would commutes sentences and legalize small amounts of recreational use of marijuana. But there’s a flip side to it we have to be honest as men and women and leaders. I don’t wanna see a lot of young people thinking its OK to smoke marijuana, because what happens then, some people not all people, graduate from marijuana and they end up using other drugs. Tobacco, alcohol and marijuana could serve as gateways to higher levels of drug usage.  And I don’t want anybody struggling with that type of stuff. A lot in teenagers and highschool students  look up to me and I’ll never tell them it’s OK to smoke marijuana. Now if you’re an adult, you wanna smoke, thats your business model have as a leader-“

QM: So are you saying that there should be age limits, some type of restrictions?

Tio Hardiman: “There should be age limits and some restrictions because I’ve seen the ugly side of addiction, in my community where I grew up at.”

QM: Whats your take on unions in general?

Tio Hardiman: “I support unions, I’m a former Union employee I have no issue with the unions, but the unions should be backing me. I don’t believe Illinois should be a right to work state because the unions I have a lot of power and unions do protect employees, for the most.  Unions protect employees but you have to understand the model of unions the model comes from the mafia days, the mobster days. They were controlling its stockyards controlling industries but I think that the unions are more sophisticated. Some of these employers would like to fire you without giving you any benefits. Especially if you’re on a leave of absence for medical conditions, you just might have to take a break and you need to be protected. How can an employee work somewhere for a company 10 to 15 years and you’re only seen as a number. That’s not good, you’re a human being and these employees especially if they’re making a lot of money. If they can show where they’re making millions and billions of dollars then take care of the employees. That’s where I stand with unions.”

QM: What are your plans to assist with community development for inner city entrepreneurs?

Tio Hardiman: “Well when it comes down to community development for inner city entrepreneurs, I’m all over that issue. My running mate, she used to oversee a budget of 80 million dollars in central Illinois where she would provide start up monies for the small businesses  throughout central Illinois. So that’s one of our main properties, to help promote small business opportunities here in the State of Illinois for everybody. The way we do it is by pushing the financial transaction tax, the LaSalle Street Tax, which is projected to bring in 3 billion dollars that’s projected OK. Let’s say it brings in 1.5 billion dollars that’s enough revenue, new revenue, that we can use to help boost the economy in the state especially the small business arena help the inner city entrepreneurs.”

QM: How do you play alone protecting our sanctuary city?

Tio Hardiman: “As governor of the head of this state, the executive in charge, I don’t agree with that and policies that a Donald Trump administration’s is trying to push forth. No human being should be seen as a legal anyway but I say this every time that question is asked of me. I support DACA, if you were raised in the USA, raised in Illinois I plan to make sure you stay. But we have to be clear about this and I bring up my ancestors when I talk about this. My ancestors came over on the bottom slave ships, we’re not immigrants here, people need to know that across the world. I’m going to say it time and time again because I traced my roots all the way to a slave plantation in Louisiana. I’ve traced my roots so it really hits home with me when we talk about a describing and defining people as immigrants anyway. Now we need to work on a pathway to citizenship for people and that’s the best we can do right now. But I plan to make sure that Illinois is a sanctuary state. However, I wish people would come over here the proper way therefore you don’t have to go back-and-forth on all these issues. But the truth of the matter is that 90% of the people that live in the United States came in from a distant land, except my people were not immigrants and were forced over here. I don’t play the game when it comes to that question there but I do support a human being’s right to be safe in a sanctuary state.”

QM: How do you plan on bridging the gap between the north and south side in regards to economic development?

Tio Hardiman: “Its just a matter looking at the different models that exists when you look at thriving communities. What’s the difference between the north and south side? There are more resources being poured into the north side because of the a leadership, because the aldermen, the Congressmen, the state reps and state senators. They’re going to make sure they take take care of the a north side. On the south side that we have a lack of development and it appears that some of our elected officials are not doing everything in their power to make sure that we have this economic boost. I would have to take a look at the whole landscape was going on on the South side and develop and design a plan to help move forward with strong economic development. I was on 79th street yesterday and I was live on social media. I started from 79th street all the way to 79th and Yates. I counted 100 maybe 120 abandoned buildings and abandoned store fronts. That story has to change because you ask people grow up and do good in these communities and they don’t have nothing to look forward to. There’s an old Sears off 79th and Kenwood that should be changed into a Target or Walmart some type of big chain store so we can hire the people in the community. Another thing I thought about, Amazon’s trying to move their number 2 headquarters to Illinois. Why not move it to the south side of Chicago, East Saint Louis or Peoria where people need the help? Why not move it to the west side of Chicago? So I’m real strong on economic development, especially on the south side. The north side they will be OK they have quite a few resources but anything I can do to help them as well I’m interested in.”

Get Real: Mandatory Sacrifices of a Revolutionary

This feels awkwardly refreshing, as I haven’t written an article or blog in over a year; the truth is that I experienced burn-out from being a part of something that took more from me than it deposited, and from being associated with some major distractions. As I sit and reflect on the time that I vested into this situation, I was able to identify a very valuable lesson learned from the experience, and I’d like to share it with you all, in hopes that someone else can grab a nugget or two from it. There is an old saying, that hopefully my brain isn’t making up, but it goes “Nothing great is obtained without great sacrifice”; this is the truth, except in the case of the lottery of course! This brings me to the case of the greatest social role known to man-kind, the revolutionary, as the sacrifices required of a revolutionary are comparable to none. What exactly is a revolutionary, and what are a few of the mandatory sacrifices that are required of these under-appreciated heroes, and why are these sacrifices so vital to the success of the revolution?

 

A revolutionary, according to Webster’s definition, is an individual that causes complete or dramatic social change. That’s not my definition though; I like to keep it real and politically incorrect! In the words of the greatest Geno you all have ever met, a revolutionary is an individual, who is forced by the ills of society, to rebel against power structures to institute social change. It is the charge of a revolutionary to view the world and society objectively, envision freedom and life without boundaries, and sacrifice leisure and personal desires to advance humanity through education, direct action, and advocacy. Before we delve into the meat and bones, here is a list of the seven different sacrifices that I was able to identify that a revolutionary must make to be successful in their mission of achieving social impact:

 

  1. Slave Mentality
  2. Greed
  3. Excuses
  4. Lies
  5. Pass-Time/Entertainment
  6. Failure (Lack of Proper Preparation)
  7. Depression and Guilt

 

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Slave Mentality

Slave mentality, as defined by the popular consensus and loud mouth individuals around the country, is the mentality of an oppressed individual, that cannot achieve freedom because the individual isn’t aware of the fact that they are indeed a slave, or they have been placed in a position of false privilege by their oppressor, and have indeed fallen in love with their state of captivity; so much so that they will assist their oppressor in their quest to enslave other persons that look the same as themselves. There are many pseudonyms for this character in history; one such nickname being coon. This individual’s role in society is to serve as the basis, on which the oppressor, can make claim that their reign of oppression and terror are false and non-existent. It is vital to the success of the revolution, that this weak state of cognition be eradicated from oppressed people, because it is this strategy of “divide and conquer” that keeps the group of African descendants throughout the world from being organized enough to overthrow and overcome their oppression. This blog can’t cover this topic enough, so we will agree to revisit the subject soon and proceed to the next great sacrifice of a revolutionary; greed!

Greed

Greed is the uncontrolled obsession with consuming any desire. Of course, that was a freestyled definition; Webster describes greed as the intense and selfish desire of something. In my pursuit of root cause analysis, I have come to understand that, at the heart of greed, lies fear of loss or void; an underlying anxiety caused by the uncertainty someone feels when they realize that they are unprepared to seize opportunity. In that fear of not knowing how their needs or desires will be fulfilled, greedy individuals begin a mad dash to obtain whatever they can before their inevitable peril. What is it that makes people greedy, because it is a fact that all people feel anxiety from the uncertainty of the future. What makes an individual choose greed over faith (faith being the belief in things not scene)? The answer to that question is nature vs. nurture; the balance of how a person was raised, weighed against their experiences. There is no magic formula to predict whether an individual will succumb to greed, or remain rooted in their faith, and persevere through the adversities of life. Why is it imperative that an individual overcome greed, for them to be utilized by the revolution? Simply put, the revolution is a movement of universal energy, that requires not a face, but utensils that are willing and able to be used to feed the purpose of the revolution. A person cannot be so trodden by experience, that they adopt a mentality of bitterness and selfishness. How do we cure the greed that hides within us? We accept ownership of our actions and desires, and that brings us to our next mandatory sacrifice of a revolutionary; excuses!

Excuses

Let’s start this section off with my personal definition of an excuses; an excuse is a bullshit explanation for why one fails to accomplish a goal or task. In short, it’s a statement that one could really keep to themselves, because it doesn’t change the fact that the objective was not accomplished. In my opinion, excuses are for weak minded and spirited individuals; people, who instead of taking ownership of their shortcomings, would opt for frantically scrambling to identify a person or object to transfer blame to. Shame on excuses, and those who find this state of fuckboy-or-girlness, their comfort zone; I spit on excuses! Why are excuses a mandatory sacrifice of a revolutionary? Excuses are a defense mechanism for weakness; in this revolution, weakness must be identified and cast out. If the root of a problem can thwart discovery, through the presentation of excuses, that root issue will fail to receive the remedy needed to shore up that weakness in the movement’s integrity. As a leader in the movement, a revolutionary must be able to take ownership for mistakes, and be able to improve upon the overall operation of the revolution through the elimination of vulnerabilities. How does one rid themselves of the weakness that causes excuse-making? We must acknowledge, and fall in love with truth, which brings us to our next mandatory sacrifice of a revolutionary, lies!

Lies

I’m not going to bother explaining to you what a lie is; if that must be explained, you shouldn’t be reading this blog. This section is but an extension of the slave mentality, greed, and excuses sections. Why do individuals choose to tell lies, as opposed to telling the truth? I believe it is because the truth requires strength. The funny thing is that, for an individual to become strong, they must first discover that all the listed characteristics reside within them, then set out to eradicate their existence, and all traces that they were once there. Yes, you heard me right; we all possess these characteristics innately as humans. The difference between a person that remains immature, and one who overcomes weakness, is nurturing, reflection, and practice. While we are on the topic of practice, lets move forward to our next major sacrifice; pass-time and entertainment.

20180308_133954.jpgPass-Time/Entertainment

I once read a book, and the author referred to this new generation as the tickle-me generation. In his opinion, this generation’s priority had shifted to heavily focus on entertainment. I don’t remember the name of the book, or the author, but that ideal has stuck with me over the years. I very rarely agree wholeheartedly with anyone, as I attempt to always remain objective, but this was extremely profound. The truth is that I don’t know, or care to dissect the reasoning behind this new epidemic of thoughtlessness, but it most certainly is fact. Matter of fact, its what makes me so unique; my psychosis is totally opposite, as I feel like entertainment is the worst form of wasted time. In my mind, I am always weighing opportunity costs; what else could I be doing with the time I take to engage in any given task? In short, for the time I waste learning nothing in front of a television, I could be learning to code, which could translate into paid work; the opportunity costs for watching television is then, not learning to do something that could make me money! What I don’t do, is judge people because they choose to watch television; I am one of the few humans that minds their own business. Even with me not judging though, pass-time must be sacrificed by revolutionaries, as this social role requires that a human be able to maximize productivity. Revolutionaries understand the plight of their people, and understand that to overcome that oppression, unorthodox methods of social resistance are required. How does one go about eradicating pass-time from their lives? It’s quite simple my friend; read a book, or do something that helps you properly prepare for the revolutionary battle. This brings us to our next sacrifice of a revolutionary; failure and lack of preparation.

Failure (Lack of Proper Preparation)

Failure occurs when opportunity is presented to an individual who has failed to prepare. This characteristic is a mandatory sacrifice for revolutionaries. There is a popular saying, that is also a cool acronym, and it reads, “proper preparation prevents poor performance (5-P’s)”. I find it cool, simple, and ingenious. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible for an individual to take all necessary procedures to prepare to succeed, and still fail, but the chances of failure are 100% for an individual who has failed to prepare. In short, you plan to fail, if you fail to plan. I know it sounds cool, but you guys should really meditate on that point, as it should stand as a summation of all the sections that precede it. Why is failure, and lack of preparation, a mandatory sacrifice for revolutionaries? Simply put, because our oppression was masterfully crafted and instituted throughout history. It is silly to believe that anything other than a masterfully crafted plan, will be able to help oppressed people achieve their freedom, and ant the universal realization of their human rights. Even though a revolutionary may try and fail many times, a revolutionary must continue to be prepared to succeed in each battle, and must be able to quickly recover from the disheartening emotions created by small failures. Simply put, a revolutionary must be able to try, fail, and try again; this brings us to our final mandatory sacrifice, which is depression and guilt.

Depression and Guilt

This is the final, and greatest sacrifice of them all, because a prerequisite is having successfully rid yourself of all the previous flaws. What is depression? I had a conversation with a chaplain at the Jesse Brown VA hospital in Chicago a few weeks ago, and I had a Watson moment while speaking with him. I can’t quite remember what we were speaking about, but I remember explaining to him what depression was to me. I looked him in the eye, and without blinking, uttered “reflection without action equals depression”.  Immediately after I had said this, we both paused with puzzling looks on our faces; I could tell he was digesting the complexity of the statement, and I know that he could realize that I was shocked that something like that could come out of my mouth. I mean, I’m not dumb at all, but that statement was one of wisdom. It’s funny how all the answers to life’s questions are housed within us! That’s neither here, nor there, but dissect that saying; the regret caused when we reflect on our mistakes, if not mitigated by corrective action, can lead to incredible guilt and depression. Why is depression and guilt a mandatory sacrifice for revolutionaries? Well, lets see; maybe because the state of depression and guilt is an incomplete one. Life is designed in a way that requires us to accomplish goals through accomplishing small objectives that collectively lead to success. That means, if our goal is to obtain 10 items, we must 1st start by gaining one, then we repeat that process of gaining one nine more times. What does this have to do with depression and guilt being a mandatory sacrifice? Simply put, a revolutionary must be a positive light for the people to admire and aspire after. This individual must have mastered the doubt, and regret caused by past failures and experiences. Our revolutionary must know how to wake up everyday ready to rise victorious over a new battle; even if the battle the day before ended in defeat. The revolution doesn’t need an individual who is still harboring the pain of yesterday’s defeat; harboring feelings of defeat lead to greed and jealousy, and that is a no-go for the revolution.

As I embark upon this journey, I feel compelled to offer up this contemplation for those who walk a similar path. I used to be extremely anti-social, but as I grow into the man that God created me to be, I realize that life is about sharing; building a foundation upon which others can add finishes to. What a blessing it will be to see the next generation build upon the radical ideas of this time we currently reside in. I felt it was important to write this because I needed to expose myself to a truth that I could only experience through questioning myself; I was the only person with the answers to the questions that I had. With that, it’s my time to shine; stand in the way and I will incinerate you. All praises to our creator. We need a new breed of leadership; signing off, but never offline.

GAC Endorses Willie Preston for 31st District Representative

The phrase “out with the old, in with the new” is a saying that we all have heard before and it usually relates to New Years Eve resolutions, making progress and bettering ones life. Even though New Years has long past this analogy applies to the race for the 31st District Representative. The 31st District encompasses portions of Chicago’s Englewood, West Englewood neighborhoods, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, Palos Hills, and other nearby communities.

I had a chance to catch up with Willie Preston, an organizer out of Englewood who has a passion for the people and is running against the incumbent. He’s very much in favor of a progressive income tax and understands the importance of having a STEM focused curriculum for our children. He’s just a regular family man that wants to see change in his community and has stepped up to the plate to do so.

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Candidate for 31st District State Rep Willie Preston and family (above)

QM: As 31st District State Representative what do you plan on doing differently in comparison to the incumbent?

WP: “Many things, my plan, unlike my opponent, I have a plan and it calls for bringing our back trade schools to Chicago. Everybody is not coming to college when I go down to Springfield I’m going to be down there fighting for vocational training inside our schools. We’re talking about plumbers, electricians, boiler makers, truck drivers. And this has to be done at the state legislature and that’s what we’re going down to Springfield to do. When my kids graduate high-school, south side of Chicago, I don’t want them lost or having to go to college and take out debt just to make a decent living. I want them to graduate with their diplomas in one hand and their union card in the other, if they decide their not going to college and that’s OK with us. My mother-in-law is a carpenter, she makes $100,000 annually, every year $100,000. She can raise a family, that’s head of household income, you can have you a home, a new car, your children can go to school, a good school that you can afford. You definitely won’t have to go to anybody’s aid office looking for food stamps. That’s the type of life changing politics that’s what this campaign is based on, we’re doing this to save people’s lives and change people’s lives. That’s one thing on the economic side, as far a property taxes go we plan on banning Mike Madigan and other law makers who practice property tax appeal law.”

QM: What is that exactly, property tax appeal law?

Preston: “So, when you get your property tax bill in the mail, lets say its $900. You think that’s too high for your little house so you go and say, “Hey, this is too high!” You need to hire an attorney because you don’t know the property tax law, property tax code, so you go and hire an attorney to get your property tax reduced. Mike Madigan, coincidentally, or not coincidentally who is one of the most powerful lawmakers in Illinois has the number one firm in Illinois. That’s not by coincidence so what we have is a situation that I have here is a situation where-“

QM: So you’re saying that he’s controlling what the law is-

Preston: “That’s right, he’s controlling it to make sure that he personally benefits and gets rich from it, and he does do it. Then what he does is re-funnel that money back into politics and make sure that he gets to come into the black community, Latino community and chooses who he wants to represent that community.

My campaign represents a stark contrast from that, he wont get to choose the leader over here anymore. We win this election we send a strong message that this community is an independent community and we’re going to choose our own leaders.

So right now we have two buildings that have been recently sold downtown. What we knew as the Sears Tower is now called the Willis Tower at 1 N. Clark, they got $50 million in property tax reduction. So the government doesn’t need $50 million laying around. We give somebody a reduction we increase some where else. So where’s the increase coming from? Its coming right here from my people, my people have a extra $200, $300, $500, $700 increase in their property tax, regular working class folk while rich folk downtown are getting under-assessed we’re getting ours over-assessed. There needs to be a property tax frieze or a serious reduction in property tax. And that’s what also is driving up the rent of people who are just getting started. 1500 dollars for a 1, 2 bedroom apartment? We’re gonna end that and how we’re going to stop it is by having people like me down there at Springfield that will say no, and fighting against that and winning.”

QM: In one interview you say, “Springfield politicians largely just go along to get along, and that’s what I’m seeing in my district right now and I want to work to change it.” What exactly do you see that needs to be changed that hasn’t in the past 30 years?

Preston: “Well a lot of things, but one thing I can site is this. We have somebody that’s been in office for nearly 50 years, Mike Madigan, he’s the Speaker of the House. Every last Democrat votes for him in the House, every last Democrat in Springfield votes for him to be Speaker of the House, “go along to get along”. That is so much centralization of power it’s unnatural, it’s un-American. We don’t have kingdoms, or supposedly we’re not supposed to be about that, this is supposed to be about democracy. And one thing I’m going to do is not vote for him as Speaker of the House that will be a stark difference. Throughout the years as Chicago and Illinois have gotten blacker and browner, the state funding to our education system has gotten lesser and lesser. We have more black politicians that most people inside this nation in terms of our state government, and they went along with that. That’s why today Illinois is last in state funding for public education. Last in America in the funding percentage allocated to public education. I got family in Mississippi, like most of us do down south, we used to laugh at them and call them country. But you know what, they’re ahead of us, they have a state government, a supposedly racist state government in Mississippi and they are racist. But they invest more in their education than we do. We’re going to end that, in Springfield that’s what Mike Madigan and other lawmakers who prioritize our state budget that went along with it. I was a victim of it, if you were a student of CPS you were a victim of it. Other people were surpassing us but we didn’t know it because we were children and they were getting invested in more than us. And so look around at 28, 29, 30, 33 years old they are executives, they’re in media, they’re in government. They’re in a host of things and enjoying the spoils of a global economy, we’re not because we were not trained, we were not invested in. Its nothing wrong with us, it was something wrong with those state  politicians who allowed it happen and I’m taking one of them out with the help of people from the movement.”

QM: So being more specific are you saying that in regards to CPS’ education or Illinois in its entirety?

Preston: “Illinois in general. CPS is obviously where the most black and brown children, more specifically black from a historical context. That is where the large share of black and brown children attend school in Illinois, which is CPS and we have been underfunded for decades, the last in America. We have to get billions more dollars in order to treat these kids fair so they can be ready for this global economy they’re going to inherit.”

QM: Whats your take on CPS as an entity and what do you plan on implementing to reverse the school-to-prison pipeline?

Preston: “Well one of the things that’s extremely important, something I’ve been working on prior to running for office, is focusing on de-centralizing power. What do I mean by that? Right now one person gets to appoint the entire school board, that’s the mayor of Chicago.  That is why we find corruption because its a billion dollar budget that these folks have with contracts galore. One person should not be appointing all these people, they have to be accountable to the people who vote for them as well as the taxpayers. The way that we do that is by making certain that we have an elected school board. We have to force these people to run in elections and I think if we do that it would have to happen again at the state level. At the state level if we run a bill and make sure that it happens now, an elected school board, we’re going to have elections. In fact many other school boards districts, except for CPS, does it so we’re going in that direction. By the way, my opponent, in the 90s voted to make this law by having the Mayor of Chicago appoint the entire school board.”

QM: Regarding education, what is going to be your main focus?

Preston: “Science. Technology. Engineering. And mathematics. We all know what the recipe for the future success is going to be, we all know. But it takes billions of dollars, school should look radically different from when I was in school. In fact schools should look radically different from when my grandmother was there, but they don’t. My grandmother went to Gillespie and if she walks into a school on the south side of Chicago it’ll look identical to when she was a child. And that is a serious problem. So we need billions more dollars-“

QM: That means the architecture is old, and perhaps unsafe-

Preston: “Yes, the architecture is old, the technology is old, we’re very clear on that. When we think about lead and all these other things we have to consider the lack of investment we’ve made into our capital funding inside of our buildings, including our schools. To your question with schools, we need billions more dollars to invest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Making certain that these are at the core of what our children are learning. So that when they’re eighteen they’re not wondering, “What am I going to do now?” No, they’re going to school to actually prepare them for a career inside the industries that are going to be dominating the economy over the next decades. So, how do we get there? We need a progressive income tax, which I support. We need to be able to fund our schools not based on the property tax, that is regressive, it never has worked and its failed folks in our generation. Lets say J. B. Pritzker is worth seven billion dollars lets say I’m worth seven thousand dollars. We’re paying the exact same income tax, that’s a problem. For me, this is not a new idea however we have Republican states surrounding us such as Wisconsin and Indiana who back this. As you make more and more in your income, you just pay a higher rate, its that simple. And if we do that, this progressive income tax, and scale up the tax revenue we’ll generate from this will be billions of dollars. Enough money to be able to pay for the schools that I just envisioned. Imagine when we walk in schools and they were technologically relevant. Imagine if we walked into a school and instead of a green chalkboard, that my mother and grandmother were writing on, there were interactive white boards. Where children can interact with professionals who have different occupations such as farming, folks inside business, etc. We need to make certain we’re giving our children the opportunity to thrive and be successful. This is what the progressive income tax will help us pay for. I’m calling all people from the movement to get involved right now because this is a serious campaign. This is the campaign for those of us that’s in the movement. This is the campaign that we should target, we should take out an old incumbent who’s been there for thirty three years unopposed and put in one of our own. Lets actually get some results for our people. We haven’t seen anything out of this government but just a handful of people we don’t know. We don’t know them because we’re too busy trying to survive but there are people who are receiving billions upon billions of state money. No one knows them or interacts with them or are benefiting from them. Its time for us to go in a different direction, we need a #NewBreedofLeadership that’s thinking totally different from that. One that understands government, appreciates its history and also has a vision for the future as to what things can be. Imagine what it would be like if we had 14% of the states procurement budget. And I say we meaning black firms, you’re talking billions and billions of dollars. Its not a hard lift either, 14% going to black firms in our community. The thing for me is that we’re going to go down to Springfield and fight for 14% procurement for black firms. That is a win for everybody, that’s a win for black business owners who will create jobs within the community. Especially the ones who have nothing to do who are standing on the corner and this will prevent them from either going to jail or winding up in a casket. We’re going to offer something different for this community, we’re going to offer something different for the south side of Chicago. I’m not interested in giving individuals with power more power, these same folks and old contracts that have been used again and again. We need to get new contracts for new entrepreneurs. If we lean in as much as we possibly can up until the 20th they won’t have a choice but to see some black power politics coming out of the south side. We’re going to make it happen.”