University of Indianapolis Adjunct Professor Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has announced that he will be running for Indianapolis mayor in the upcoming 2023 mayoral election. Additionally, Shabazz said he will be running as a smaller Republican, like Richard Lugar, given the advantage to Democrats in Marion County. Shabazz said he developed interest in running for mayor a couple of years ago.
“I started thinking about running for mayor actually a couple of years ago during the George Floyd riots in downtown Indianapolis, and I thought city leadership just totally dropped the ball on dealing with all of that,” Shabazz said. “And I was thinking about it for a couple years. Then about maybe August of this year, or last year, I started thinking about it seriously. [I] then got a team together and spoke to a bunch of people. We did some polling, [and] I got my wife’s permission to form an exploratory committee first. And that’s where… I got permission to run now.”
According to Shabazz, he is looking to gain the moderate voters in order to win his election. Likewise, Shabazz said that his platform will include different aspects of the public’s interest.
“Three things [to focus on]: public safety, public works and public trust. Public safety needs to get there to get this crime in the city under control,” Shabazz said.
Shabazz said he has been focusing on finding a way to provide those who commit crime with the opportunity to receive education. However, the plan would be if someone commits a crime and doesn’t show for class, it can cause breaches in their probation, according to Shabazz.
“[For a] first time offender—no high school diploma, no college certificate—here’s what we’re going to do as part of your probation. We’re going to send you to Ivy Tech, or University of Indianapolis or one of the universities here, [and] you’re going to get your degree or your certificate,” Shabazz said. “Number one, it is cheaper than jail. …If you didn’t go to class, you missed some material, that’ll hurt you on the test or the final. These guys don’t go to class, they go to jail because you’re violating your probation…. We need to be tough on crime, but also smart on crime.”
According to President of Corvano Gerry Bailey, who has been friends with Shabazz for over 10 years, he has been looking for a change in office and feels that Shabazz is the right person for the job. Bailey said that Shabazz has a love for the city that will show if elected.
“If you take the Venn diagram of the population of Indianapolis, he lands right in the middle. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s part of the politics, he’s part of the environment,” Bailey said. “He’s a businessman himself, and so all of those things lend to where I think he could be a great mayor, and he wants to do it more than anything.”
Since he was young, he has always valued an education, Shabazz said. His time outside of the classroom has been spent working on the campaign, but he also wants to keep his running for mayor out of the classroom.
“I don’t talk about mayor stuff during class,” Shabazz said. “I like to keep the walls separate now… The day after I filed I came to tell my students…, I said ‘I am running for mayor of Indianapolis. No one talks about it here because this is for school [and] for work.’”
Bailey said that Shabazz’s involvement with education can play a large role in the impact he can make in the community, which he has already started to do on the education side.
“He’s plugged into the community, he’s a part of the community. He teaches at multiple schools…,” Bailey said. “He’s a self-made man, he’s earned his way through what he’s doing as a longtime journalist. And so he really knows how to dig his fingers into what’s going on and understand what the problem is. He’s well in touch with the Ten Point Coalition… He’s worked closely with them. I think he has a real heart for the city, so he’s there downtown all the time. I think those are his best qualities.”
Shabazz said he appreciates the fact that at UIndy he can always look to a friend if he needs help. He hopes the UIndy community and those beyond campus will come to live in Indianapolis because they want to, not just out of obligation.
“[The] particular interests of university communities, particularly students, is [that] you come here to get a quality education. I want you to have a quality lifestyle,” Shabazz said. “Actually, I prefer you to move here after you graduate or after you travel for a little while. Come back here, settle down, raise a family, but you can’t do that unless the roads are paved and the streets are safe…. So, whether you’re [at] Ivy Tech, Butler [or] UIndy, I want you to come here, live here, work, play here. I want to make life as easy for you as humanly possible to do all that stuff.”