I asked Fourth Ward candidate Marcus Harcus about policies that disproportionately affect people of color, such as the practices of law enforcement when dealing with minorities. Harcus suggests that the problems are not being addressed because of a combination of ignorance, neglect, and a general refusal by the current council member to recognize issues that affect members of the community who come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Council Member Barbara Johnson refuses to recognize issues that affect members of the community who come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, says Harcus — backgrounds that she just flat-out seems to be unfamiliar with. This in turn is creating a sentiment of neglect among many residents of the ward.
“She’s a major contributor to it [the neglect], but she doesn’t even understand it… [And] she frankly doesn’t care when people try to inform her,” Harcus believes.
Harcus feels that there is currently a lack of opportunities for residents of the Fourth Ward who are not connected to the Johnson circle of family and friends. “I would produce more progressive policy,” he says.
“I believe that everybody deserves an opportunity… It shouldn’t be limited to small groups of people… My policy would take into consideration everyone’s issues [and] interests, and I’ll weigh my decisions on what would have the best impact on the most people,” Harcus stresses.
If Johnson is catering to the needs of a select few within the ward, then the question becomes how to get enough of the roughly 15,000 residents that are of voting age to support the challenger. “I’m going to every door… I’m reaching out to everyone… If I have to speak through people’s daughters and sons to translate for new immigrants, then that’s what I’m going to do,” Harcus explains confidently.
However, reaching out is only a part of the process; once the extension is made, how can you ensure that there is an actual connection? “What I’m continually learning,” says Harcus, “is that we all have more in common than not, but different groups do have their unique issues and interests. And it’s important for elected officials to understand that and represent those interests accordingly.”
Because he believes that changes cannot be made by one person alone, and the decisions on what changes should be made for the benefit of an entire community should not be made by one or even a few individuals, Harcus is adamant about getting the community involved in the process.
He envisions creating a (tentatively titled) “Northside Community Coalition” — a “vast and diverse network of residents of the Fourth Ward” that would be in direct contact with him. The network would keep him informed about the issues and concerns of the community, and he would in turn help start the process to address those issues and concerns.
Harcus is confident that he is running an effective campaign, and that he is gaining the support necessary to make a change on the North Side. “I have a superior field plan… I’ve seen how they do campaigning. They don’t really do an effective job of promoting their vision of the community, and I don’t see them really investigating what the interests of the community are.
“I think it’s important to do more listening than talking.”
Believe it or not, Harcus is glad that Parker is in the race. He believes it brings more people into the process, and based on the new Instant Runoff Voting process, it gives him a greater chance of being on the ballot with no primary election (a process that filters the selection field down to two candidates for the general election).
“The primary is like the playoffs; the general election is like the championship,” Harcus points out. “After the first vote count on general election day, if no one candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote, then you go to a second round. But in the second round, the third-place candidate gets dropped. And so, when we vote, we rank our candidates in order of our preference.”
In this format, he feels that his chances are better to get his name on the ballot no matter the outcome of the leading vote-getter.
Regarding the DFL endorsement process, Harcus considers it a tricky, seemingly unnecessary process designed to give certain people an advantage. “It really is an unfair process, but the rules give them leeway… [But] they’re not cheating, because it’s legal.”
Harcus was actually looking to work with Parker in an effort to block the incumbent during the DFL endorsement. He had hoped to bring their supporters together to create enough votes; but according to Harcus, Parker showed little interest.
Even so, Harcus claims he had his supporters vote for Parker, and the strategy seemed to have an impact, but a leaflet that was being distributed caused some controversy and had a negative effect on Parker.
Marcus Harcus has a website at www.MarcusHarcus.org.
Jamal Denman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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