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ELECTIONS 2018: GOVERNOR Tio Hardiman talks LGBT rights, gun violence
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Tarina Hargrays

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Local violence-prevention activist Tio Hardiman is running for Illinois governor for the second time since his run in 2014.

Hardiman's platform consists of creating new jobs; supporting legal gun owners; ending political corruption; and increasing funding for public schools, domestic-violence shelters, HIV-awareness programs and violence-prevention services.

Windy City Times: Do you have or would you install a written policy in your office regarding sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination?

Tio Hardiman: Yeah, I would make sure we move forward with some written policies because we must protect people's sexual orientation and gender equality.

WCT: Can you talk about comments you've made about rescuing transgender people?

TH: Yeah. There were two young trans ladies that lived in the Austin community and they were being bullied by some guys in the neighborhood, where I was working as a violence-prevention expert. The young lady told me her side of the story because the guy was in a relationship with her and he was exposed, so he wanted to do away with her. He didn't want everyone to know he was involved with a trans [individual].

I intervened and I stopped him from basically taking her life. There's another story with a similar situation in which a guy was trying to prostitute a trans [person]. I basically rescued the young lady from possible prostitution.

WCT: Within the LGBTQ community and, specifically, the trans community, there are a lot of hate crimes, what would you do to prevent those things from happening?

TH: Myself, being an African-American man, I understand the issues that African-American men face like being shot in high numbers by the police just for being African-American. So, I would hate to see people from the LGBT community being abused, taken advantage of or somebody committing a hate crime against them because of what they stand for. So, I would definitely make some stiffer penalties against hate crimes.

WCT: What type of penalties would you propose?

TH: We would enhance the time you have to do in prison.

WCT: What is your position regarding funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and education? Also, do you favor mandatory Medicaid coverage of those with the disease?

TH: I do favor mandatory Medicaid coverage and second, I lost a sister and a brother to HIV. So, it hits home with me. Anything I can do to increase funding for HIV-awareness programs and make sure Medicaid covers that, I will.

WCT: Do you favor lifting the policy on gay men being able to donate blood [having to be celibate for at least one year]?

TH: I'm going to be straight with you about that. All blood, no matter where it comes from, needs to be thoroughly screened—whether it's from a straight or gay person. As long as it's thoroughly screened and passes, then you should be able to use the blood.

WCT: [In a pre-interview,] you mentioned family members and their battle with HIV but you also talked about your stepson coming out to you. Can you talk about that?

TH: I didn't know how to deal with it when I saw the signs. So I would ignore him a lot because I didn't want to come to grips with the fact that he may have had that in his DNA. As he got older, I began to understand him more. Now we have one of the best relationships ever because I accept him for who he is; it took me some time to get to where I'm at and I really admiure the strength of the LGBT community when it comes down to standing up for themselves, advocating for equal rights and how they stood up and fought to have marriage rights.

WCT: What do you feel is the most pressing issue for LGBTQ Illinois residents?

TH: The most pressing issue is continuing to educate people that we're all human, no matter what our beliefs may be.

WCT: What is your position regarding comprehensive sex education?

TH: That's a tough conversation. I would rather refrain from making a comment on that subject right now until I do a little more research on it. ... It's going to take time for my administration to design a program that's appropriate.

WCT: Obviously, you're a known anti-violence activist, so are you against concealed carry?

TH: I support concealed carry because there is no data in the universe that dictates the fact that conceal carry is part of the violence problem in cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit.

I support the 2nd Amendment—what can I say? If you can show me some data that shows legal guns are apart of the violence problems, then we can go with that. The main thing about violence in Chicago is African-American people must unify to stop the violence in their neighborhoods.

Everybody's in response mode, which means they're coming after the fact. Most of the programs come after the fact as well.

WCT: So you believe unity is the key to peace?

TH: Unity is the only way to stop killings in the Black community. Everybody has to address their own people. ... The Black community is the only community right now that continues to kill their own people in big numbers, especially in Chicago.

WCT: How do you plan to get "unity" in Black communities?

TH: As governor, I plan to work with my administration to identify people that we can train, that know how to work in the field of conflict resolution to stop shootings and killings on the front end.

WCT: What are your thoughts on the budget passing?

TH: The reason I sided with the budget passing is because you have a lot of organizations that serve vulnerable communities that needed that funding to stay in business. A lot of people needed help.

I'm not in agreement with the tax hike at all, but somewhere along the way that compromise had to take place. Bruce Rauner appears to be a dictator. You cannot keep stepping on the poor and working class people and expect for everything to be okay. When Bruce Rauner's wife turned against him, that signaled his defeat and he'll be a one-term governor because of that. The working class and poor people needed a budget.

WCT: If you could ask any one of the other candidates, Democratic or Republican, a question that that person had to answer, what would it be?

TH: I would ask J.B. Pritzker, who's a billionaire, "Why are you running for governor?" You're running as a hobby, running for bragging rights or to make himself look like he's going to do something. I'm running to be the first Black governor, not just because I'm Black but because I'm qualified. I believe everybody needs to have a seat at the table.

WCT: What would you say your biggest advantage and disadvantage are as you run for governor?

TH: I think my advantage is I plan to represent the poor and working-class people of Illinois. It's time to say no to the billionaires. My disadvantage is that I have to make sure my people and all people take to my campaign.

For more information on Hardiman and his campaign for governor, visit .

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