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Illinois State Democrat Rep. LaShawn Ford (Dist. 8) feels honored to serve the community where he was raised. His constituents have re-elected him in the last seven elections.
After the state’s legislative re-mapping, his district covers parts of Austin, Oak Park, Berwin, Forrest Park, Lagrange Park, North Riverside, Brookfield, Countryside, and some of Western Springs.
When Ford’s family moved to Austin, the neighborhood was very diverse with many businesses. For example, on the corner of W. Chicago Avenue and N. Laramie Avenue were two banks and three grocery stores within a block. But in the 70s and 80s white residents moved out, and the community began to change.
After the businesses and the jobs left in the early 90s, Austin became engulfed with criminal activity:
We exchanged jobs for crime in the 90s. Austin High School’s resorces began to decline, and the government had a diliberate hand during this time in defunding communities.
This inspired Ford to become an integral member of the Austin Coming Together initiative, a group of businesses and politicians coming together as a collaborative that raises money to support businesses in the community. This group has partnered with philanthropists who donate monies to neighborhoods.
Representative Ford is currently working on a bill to allow incarcerated individuals to vote. In addition, he passed a prostate cancer bill that will enable men to receive prostate screenings and treatment without any copayments. As a prostate cancer survivor, this legislation is vital to him.
Another major piece of legislation prevents the city from trying to collect on a twenty-year-old debt. Ford’s bill will only allow the city to collect on a debt that is seven years old or less. If it has not been collected within that time, the revenue is lost.
Being a former Chicago Public School teacher, the State Representative has powerful thoughts about education reform. He believes that successful teaching methods should be used unilaterally throughout the school system. What does not work, should be eliminated.
He sponsored a resolution honoring Dr. Webb Evans (Mr. Buy Black) during Black Business Month in August. Ford was inspired by Dr. Evans’ great work to encourage Black people to support Black businesses.
When asked if he is planning to run for Mayor of the City of Chicago, Ford responded: “It takes a great deal of money and community support to be successful, but if the people show me that we have their support and the war chest needed, I would answer the people’s call.” He learned from the problems encountered during his 2019 bid for the mayor’s seat.
Illinois State Representative Ford’s seat is up for re-election this year, and he is running without opposition. His love and respect for his constituents will carry him well into his eighth term. With the guidance and support of his voters, he will remain hard at work for the men, women, and children of the 8th District.
Written by Omari Jahi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Interview: Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford; March 18, 2022
Images Courtesy of LaShawn Ford