Chicago Democrat Tio Hardiman is making his second bid for his party's nomination for governor. He recently sat down with Journal Star reporter Chris Kaergard to answer questions about his platform. An edited transcript:
Q: Candidates are talking about Bruce Rauner, but the first thing any of you have to do is win the primary. What makes you the best, most viable Democrat to win the nomination?
A: First of all, I ran for governor in 2014 and secured close to 30 percent of the state vote without a whole lot of money. This go around, I have a running mate from central Illinois, Patricia Avery, president of the NAACP in Champaign-Urbana, and we plan to make our campaign a historic campaign, which means the first African-American governor and female African-American lieutenant governor on the same ticket. Plus, we have a 2020 plan, which is powered by the people of Illinois. We plan to turn everything Bruce Rauner has not done against him, because he hasn't accomplished much. You can't point to one accomplishment that Bruce Rauner has made since he was governor.
Q: When you ran before you had the advantage of being in a two-person race against an unpopular Democratic governor. This is a field of eight or nine. How do you get past the noise and stand out?
A: Once the smoke clears, I think there's probably only going to be three or four candidates standing.
Q: You talked a little bit about the tax you'd levy on transactions at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. That's going to require legislative approval. How do you craft a majority on something that a lot of groups — Republican and Democrat — are going to claim is bad for those businesses?
A: The thing is that we're not asking for a lot from the businesses. They've been doing business in Chicago at the Board of Trade for over 100 years. We've never taxed them and right now the state needs the revenue. Instead of doing something like (Cook County Board Chairwoman) Toni Preckwinkle passing a soda tax where people have to pay more money just to buy a can of pop, let's talk about the business transaction tax, which would help the state of Illinois' economy in a lot of ways. We can rebuild infrastructure and repave roads all through central and southern Illinois and in Chicago. It's (estimated) to bring in $3 billion in new income. We must do this. As governor, I plan to work with everybody across the aisle to come together and get this done. We're not talking about a lot of money, it's, what, a penny a transaction, a dollar a transaction? It's not going to be impossible to do.
Q: You're a former CeaseFire director and you talk about being able to cut the number of homicides in Chicago by 50 percent. Downstate communities face similar problems. Talk us through your plan.
A: The elephant in the room is, over 85 percent of shootings and killings — whether in Chicago, Springfield, Decatur, East St. Louis, Champaign-Urbana — 85 percent are African-American people killing one another. What nobody wants to talk about is the only way you're going to reduce killings in the black community, African-American men must unify to stop the killing. CeaseFire was a public health model that was proven to get results. Through trial and error I've pretty much come up with a black unity theory when it comes down to reducing killings.
Everybody in the community, they know some of the shooters out there. Some of the shooters live in their houses. The fathers, the uncles, the brothers, the extended community should step up the same way everybody organizes against police brutality. You get 10,000 people marching? We don't need to march after somebody gets shot all the time, we need to go in there if we know it's a hot area. Send 10,000 people in there and mediate the conflict before it turns deadly. Nobody wants to talk about that. That's not all about money right there, that's about black folks stepping up to the plate and dealing with issues in their community.
Q: As governor you've got to sell Illinois to companies and try to bring people in. There's some undeniable concerns — worker's comp, high taxes, high regulation environment. How do you address some of that legislatively or through rhetoric?
A: Illinois needs to become job-friendly. You need a new image in Illinois. You need a friendly governor that can attract new businesses to Illinois — sustainable businesses that are proven moneymakers and are proven, productive companies that can hire thousands of people in Illinois. What we have to do is we have to attract businesses to come downstate. Chicago's at the epicenter of businesses and everything because it's the big city. We've got another big city, Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois. Joliet. You've got Decatur, you've got other cities — Peoria — so we have to be a friendly type of state and we have to work on some special incentives for businesses to stay here. If we don't give them certain incentives, or their taxes are too high, they're going to take their business somewhere else.
Q: You've been critical of Michael Madigan as speaker of the House and the sway he holds over the Democratic Party. If you're governor, how do you work with him productively?
A: He's been around for decades. Everyone has an expiration date. Tio Hardiman would have an expiration date sooner or later. Once you're in office for so long, it becomes commonplace. People become comfortable in their position. Mike Madigan is not as young as he used to be, so he may be at a point in his career where he's overlooking a lot of things that are valuable in the state of Illinois like stepping to the side and becoming more of a consultant instead of an elected official and allow somebody younger take that seat or somebody else to step up in the ranks. It's nothing personal; Mike Madigan has done some good work in Illinois, but like I said, if you stay too long everything becomes the usual for you and you're going to make mistakes.
I believe when I become governor Mike Madigan might resign, because he might not want to deal with a guy like me.
Q: If you're elected, are you going to live in the governor's mansion?
A: Yeah, I have to live in the governor's mansion. I'm the only candidate that's selected a running mate from central Illinois. I'm concerned about all of Illinois. You've got candidates who've selected a running mate and both of them are from Chicago. That's showing right there you're ignoring the rest of the state. Everybody from Chicago should not run the state.
You've got over 100 counties in the state of Illinois. I plan to appoint people from each county to some position so they can make sure the needs of their people are being met.