Nineteen-year-old Bushra Amiwala plans to run against incumbent Larry Suffredin this November for a seat on Cook County Board. As the impending election looms in, candidates have begun to gear up to face voters. On Monday, January 8th, Amiwala held a press event at First Mondays (Heartland Cafe; 7000 N Glenwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60626) to interact with members of the community and answer campaign questions.
She describes herself as a progressive democrat and takes a progressive approach to many issues Cook County faces this election cycle. On one of the many divisive issues, the county had to deal with this past year was the soda tax; Amiwala notably supported the Can the Tax effort. During her conference, she touched on other issues the constituents were concerned about, most notably the budget deficit.
She described her assessment of the crisis and Board’s effort to resolve it: “We have a budget crisis and deficit… The county budget and deficit has a lot of issues that could be taken care of proactively… they take a reactive approach. They try to clean it after it’s a little messed up.” She pointed to the lack of clarity when it comes to explaining the budget.
When asked what her top priority would be in her first days in office, she described a plan for transparency in the Board’s affairs. Reflecting on the budget, she found that getting access to any information was difficult and that the information that is not provided in a practical way. She listed examples of increased transparency such as live streaming Board meetings so people could watch at home.
She confronted another issue that Illinoisans have faced: property taxes. Illinois is second in the nation in highest property taxes, and many people see its regressive tax plan as the reason why.
Overtly, a homeowner pays property tax based on an assessment of their home value — not taking into account their income. Amiwala cites this lack of correlation as something she wants to tackle in her term. She suggests an alternative plan called the “Progressive Taxation Model” in which owners that can contribute more than those who are not.
Amiwala urges the importance of change and shaking up the establishment. She remained cordial when discussing her opponent Larry Suffredin, a Board member for the past 16 years, but did not shy away from highlighting some of the practices that his office conducts. She elaborated on this with their respective experiences with Super PACs and lobbyists.
Notably, she turned down a hefty donation of more than fifty thousand from Illinois Sunshine (a group that takes donations from Soda companies like Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola), that had praised her stance on the soda tax. Larry Suffredin, on the other hand, took a donation from Lobbyist Michael Bloomberg who supported the soda tax.
The next plan of action for Bushra Amiwala is a fundraiser on January 31st at Holiday Inn (5300 W Touhy Ave, Skokie, IL 60077). The Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce is supporting Bushra Amiwala by buying a table.
Anyone looking to support the Chamber and Amiwala can buy a seat at the chamber table can do so by contacting the chamber at (773) 850-0049 (7101 N Glenwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60626) and purchasing tickets for $25.
Heartland Cafe Photo Credit: Mark Armstrong