With a focus on fighting poverty, La Shawn Ford hopes to become the next mayor of Chicago. When he spoke with Windy City Times recently, he explained some of his plans for helping the middle class as well as his positions on key LGBTQ issues.
Windy City Times: What was the defining moment that solidified your decision to run? Was there a single moment or cause that pushed you to run for mayor?
La Shawn Ford: What really prompted me was community organizations asking me to run and saying that they wanted to get the petitions to help me run. So the grassroots movement on the South and West sides of Chicago did it. The ex-offender community, the LGBTQ communitythere's just been a lot of people that have recognized the work, and they came out strong saying that they want to support me to run for mayor.
WCT: The Marshall Plantell me more about it and how it sets you apart from other candidates.
LSF: When I look at all of the other candidates that's in the race, which ultimately I had to make the final decision whether or not the grass roots movement would push me to run, looking at every candidate in the race, I don't thinkand there's been no real indication that they understand the problems that are really impacting the city. And that is, the middle class and the people that are living in poverty are being left behind. And this city is constantly driving people into poverty.
And so the Marshall Plan will be sure to work with the federal/state government to have a capital bill to rebuild the communities that have been destroyed since the 1968 riots. We plan to make sure that the city of Chicago, every community, is thriving. I think that what the city has missed for so many years is a mayor that plans to work in the community like a mayor is supposed to. It's bigger than being worried about being an international citywe are that already. But what we need is a working mayor that that understands how to improve impoverished communities. And one that's not going to be tied to the democratic machine in any way that's going to force them to be compromised.
WCT: What's your vision for the LGBTQ community?
LSF: My position is to govern with people at the table, and nothing for the LGBTQ community without them being a part of the decision making. I supported the marriage equality billI supported and helped it pass. And how did I do that? I spoke with the LGBTQ community some, and I spoke with the people to help me advocate for the best bill for fairness and justice for that community. So my record reflects that I am supportive of that right, and there's no one else that voting record to prove it but me in this race.
WCT: Do you have any other experience working in LGBTQ-related issues?
LSF: I have people in my own familymy sister is gay and she's a strong adviser on issues as well. Even as a Catholic, I have been able to represent fairness and equality for people because I believe that that's what we should do with government. I'm always open to fairness and justice, and I've been meeting with the transgender community as well to make sure that we have protections for people from that community. I've worked with the Department of Corrections to make sure there's protections for transgender men and women in our Department of Corrections. I'm a strong supporter and a leader when it comes to making sure that we protect individual rights.
WCT: While Chicagoas well as the state of Illinoishas strong anti-discrimination laws both to cover LGBTQ people as well as people of color, actual enforcement of those laws can be difficult. What would you do or change as mayor to ensure those laws are adequately enforced?
LSF: You hear a lot about police training when it comes to dealing with African-Americans and other minorities. I think that police training has to be extended to the LGBTQ community and the transgender community as well. We have to make sure that the police have a renewed training as it relates to fairness and justice for all people. And that's where it lies; it lies with making sure that the city of Chicago understands that law enforcement must be well trained as it relates to all communities of people that they serve.
WCT: What do you see as being the biggest problem facing the LGBTQ community, and how would you work as mayor to tackle that problem?
LSF: What I see, basically, is making sure that the LGBTQ community has a real department and a place in city government. Because we have to look at this as a civil right and we have to make sure that we protect these communities. Yo have the different agencies and groups that look out for Blacks and Hispanics. ... We have to have something like that in city government to protect and have a platform in city government that's going to advise the mayor, that's going to advise the City Council, that's going to advise the Chicago police, that's going to have a network from the community that they meet with. I don't want to say cabinet, but there will be some type of appointment for that in city government.
For more information on Ford's campaign, visit www.fordforchicago.com .