First Unitarian Church hosts gubernatorial forum

Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Tio Hardiman (right) states what he thinks should be done about criminal justice reform during a gubernatorial candidate forum that featured himself and candidate Bob Daiber (left) at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave., Wednesday, Feb. 28. – Marc Monaghan

Staff Writer

Only two of the eight candidates running in the March 20, Primary Election were in attendance, Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus’ Gubernatorial Forum at First Unitarian Church of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave.

During the forum, candidates Bob Daiber and Tio Hardiman answered several questions from event moderated by Dr. Finley C. Campbell of the Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus on the topic of “The Arc of Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice Reform-from Pre-Criminalization to Post Incarceration.”

Daniel Biss, J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, Robert Marshall, Bruce Rauner, and Jeanne Ives were invited to the event but did not attend or send a representative.

The two candidates laid out their four-point plans on how they would help fix the criminal justice system and other state issues. Each candidate was given 10 minutes to address the audience.

Hardiman, former director of CeaseFire, said he would implement four strategies through his “20/20 Vision” plan, if elected.

Hardiman said the first thing he will do is address the criminal justice system through violence reduction and prison reform.

“The reality is that prisons were corrupt from the beginning,” said Hardiman about the state of the current criminal justice system. “[With the] prison to pipeline system and the failed war on drugs, everything goes hand and hand.”

Hardiman said through increased funding for programs such as Cease Fire, which has established current and proven solutions of decreasing crime, and killings by over 50 percent in many neighborhoods throughout the state of Illinois, he would implement a restorative justice model to help end the school-to-prison-pipeline system, decrease recidivism by converting some prisons into institutes of Higher Learning, and decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana through age restrictions.

Hardiman said through economic development, he would also help advance the development of Minority and Women Entrepreneurship. He said his goal would be to help pair business owners and startups with economic education, mentors and access to financing, and increase Small Business Administration Historically Underutilized Business Zones (SBA HubZones).

In addition to addressing criminal justice reform and economic development, Hardiman said he would help balance the state budget deficit by levying taxes on transactions at both the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Board of Operations Exchange through a progressive income tax. He said he will fight against all forms of discrimination.

Daiber also shared his four-point strategy to address criminal justice reform and other state issues.

When it comes to criminal justice reform in the state of Illinois, Daiber said he would first legalize marijuana. He explained that the legalization of the drug would help eliminate an underground market and relieve law enforcement and the court and prison systems of the burden of enforcing prohibition. In addition to legalizing marijuana, Daiber also stated he’d eliminate the cash bail system.

“A violent defendant, who is a threat to the community, should not be discharged to the streets just because he can post bond for $500,000 thousand dollar bail,” Daiber said.

Daiber stated that a non-violent petty offender should not be kept in jail at the cost of taxpayers of $150 dollars a day. He stated that most of the offender’s issues stem from their inability to come up with $500 dollars in bail money.

Daiber also said he would help curtail crime on the streets by establishing school-based mentoring programs for students in grades 6-12, reinstate after-school programs and community-based programs, and provide needed support to local law enforcement and first responders.

On state issues such as jobs, Daiber said he’ll invest in Illinois infrastructure by involving Illinois contractors, employing a diverse workforce, creating a state marketing plan to attract business development and supporting small business incubators for entrepreneurs of the 21st century.

For community healthcare, Daiber said he’s in favor of promoting a progressive income tax to gain designated revenue to pay pension obligation. Daiber stated he’s a firm believer in helping to create criminal justice reforms that make the system structure fairer, more rehabilitative and less costly.