The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 8th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Faheem Shabazz submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Faheem Shabazz?
He’s running for: 8th Ward alderman His political/civic background: Politically I ran for Alderman of the 8th Ward. More recently in 2011 and 2015 placing 2nd in both races. I was projected to win based on voter participation yet extremely low turnout diffused any hopes of succeeding the incumbent. I also have a huge presence in my community in relation to civic participation.
- 2006/ Led a community alert which led to the capture and incarceration of the murderer of Antoinette Means, a KFC employee located at 83rd & Jeffery.
- 2007/ Aldermanic run placing 3rd of 10
- 2009/ Formed the BMU Black Men United Coalition to address negative issues in our community. Organized marches to close undesirable stores that harbored drug dealers, gang members and also sold outdated food products along with other illegal sales.
- 2011/ Aldermanic run placing 2nd
- 2012/ Worked with the ‘Culture of Calm’ initiative (CPS) for at risk youth.
- 2013/ Joined Public Image Partnership Nfp to assist in job creation and preparedness for young adults.
- 2015/ Aldermanic run placing 2nd and also founded EWAC the 8th Ward Accountability Coalition to promote and demand transparency and trust between the Alderman’s office and ward residents.
- 2017/ Took 100 young adults with chaperones to see Marvel’s Black Panther.
- 2018/ I Witnessed a deadly fiery car crash/ collision on June 11 at 83rd and Yates. I captured horrific footage and aided in pulling a man from being burned alive but we couldn’t rescue the other driver. I hate to mention this horrible event and as I said to the news media, ‘I’m not a hero, we just did what any decent citizen would have done’.
His occupation: Real Estate experience/ Youth Employment Coordinator/ Barber for 34 years/ Business owner His education: Lane Technical HS/ Cain’s Barber College/ Information Professionals Real Estate Facebook: facebook.com/faheem.shabazz.7
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Faheem A. Shabazz:
- Lack of transparency has to be dealt with. The tax payers of our communities should be involved in ‘the process’ upon inception and not lied to or caught off guard in the economic development of our ward.
- There is a culture of favoritism in the 8th Ward. Certain neighborhoods are first on the list while others suffer indefinitely for even small requests such as trash cans or lighting replacement in dark alleys not to mention the horrible condition of our streets.
- There is no visible economic plan to restore or revitalized the once flourishing businesses in our ward.
Recent civic work
Please tell us what you have done in the last two years to serve the city, your neighborhood or a civic organization. Please be specific.
Faheem A. Shabazz:I have been hands on with PIP Public Image Partnership to help young adults prepare to enter the workforce and aid in actual job placement. The program is extremely effective as it allows the businesses in our community to obtain workers from our program while being paid through funding. I have also provided grooming services and hygienic classes along with mentorship. Another area that I concentrate on is conflict resolution in neighboring areas within the ward and sometimes abroad. Gang feuds, drug dealing/ usage prevention are areas that I deal with often as well.
Chicago is on the hook for $42 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, which works out to $35,000 for every household. Those pensions, in the language of the Illinois Constitution, “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Should the state Constitution be amended to allow a reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees? How about reducing pension benefits for new employees? Please explain.
Faheem A. Shabazz:Even though it may be hard to amend, we have to eliminate the constitutional barriers. No reduction for new employees.
Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which of the following do you favor, and why? A Chicago casino, legalized and taxed recreational marijuana, a LaSalle Street tax, a commuter tax, a property tax increase, a municipal sales tax increase, a real estate transfer tax increase, video gambling.
Faheem A. Shabazz:I would support legalized and taxed recreational marijuana.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Faheem A. Shabazz:I oppose any property tax increases.
Tax-increment financing districts are a primary economic development tool for Chicago. In a TIF district, taxes from the growth of property values are set aside for 23 years to be used to support public projects and private development. What changes do you favor, if any, in Chicago’s TIF program?
Faheem A. Shabazz: TIF has not, in most cases, accomplished the goal of promoting economic development. I think that there needs to a reevaluation of the guidelines/ meaning encompassing ‘blighted’ areas.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Faheem A. Shabazz: Aldermanic prerogative or Aldermanic privilege can be a good thing and as also be a problem in many cases. An alderman should always reflect the interests of their constituents but at the same time not be self serving or corrupt.
The City of Chicago has entered into a federally monitored consent decree to overhaul the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department. Civil libertarians say it is long overdue, but others say it is unnecessary and could make it tougher for the police to do their job. What’s your view?
Faheem A. Shabazz: The training and supervision will promote an officers confidence to do their jobs safely, professionally and without second guessing.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Faheem A. Shabazz: Since most of the illegal firearms recovered by police (60%) come from outside illinois, there should be strong gun dealer regulations and oversight. Gun dealers are not subject to accountability from the state.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Faheem A. Shabazz: Expanded educational options for students, increased innovation by educators, improved student achievement, and healthy competitive pressure for traditional public schools.
Should the Chicago Board of Education be solely appointed by the mayor, as is now the case? Or should Chicago switch to an elected school board or some hybrid?
Faheem A. Shabazz: I’ve always been an advocate for an elected school board.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Faheem A. Shabazz: There isn’t enough affordable housing in the 8th ward. This question directly relates to the issue of aldermanic privilege in the 8th ward.
Chicago, by ordinance, is an official “welcoming city.” This means the Chicago police are generally prohibited from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities. What’s your position on this policy? What more — or less — should be done with respect to undocumented immigrants who live in Chicago?
Faheem A. Shabazz: Local law enforcement officers are limited when it comes to federal law which is understandable. I also believe that there should be zero tolerance for racial profiling and unlawful arrests.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Faheem A. Shabazz: Yes. Transparency is a must especially with the history of unethical and illegal practices in Chicago politics.
Would you employ, or have you employed, staff in your office who have outside jobs or contracts with entities that do business with the city? If so, please explain.
Faheem A. Shabazz: No and no again.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Faheem A. Shabazz:William Cousins
I had the honor of speaking with ‘Bill’ Cousins when I took an interest in the 8th Ward back in 2007. He said to me over the phone, ‘I’ve been reading up on you and I like what I see. You may not win because the 8th Ward is hard to beat but keep the interests of the people first and they’ll place you where you need to be. Don’t give up’.
Words I’ve lived by…
Also running for 8th Ward alderman: