Tariq K. Shabazz is a 28-year veteran of the United States Navy seeking a path to elective office.
He ran for Congress twice. Now he’s running in the Democratic primary for Cuyahoga County executive. Shabazz operates on a platform of criminal justice reform, cybersecurity, and helping those in economic need.
In 2020, he ran against U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge in the Democratic primary. He won about 3% of the vote. Last year he jumped into the special election to take the seat of Fudge’s House. He finished ninth in the race of 13 candidates.
“I’m a husband, I’m a Navy veteran, I’m a political scientist,” he told a City Club of Cleveland congressional forum last year. “Like I say all the time, before all these things, I was just a young guy growing up in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.”
This time, Shabazz is in the running to lead the Cuyahoga County government. He said that’s why he’s in the race:
“We are at a tipping point in America,” he said. “Across America, we are talking about crime, crime, crime, crime. And wherever we talk about crime, the first answer is “more police”.
But Shabazz said more police shouldn’t be the first response.
“The first response should be, ‘Remove the condition that contributes to these crimes. »
Those conditions, according to Shabazz, are economic and housing insecurity. He said there were two counties of Cuyahoga.
“People don’t understand, we live in two different Cuyahogas,” he said. “It’s two Cuyahoga tales. It is a Cuyahoga where everything is beautiful. He has the right resources for our children to grow.
In the other Cuyahoga, he said, are neighborhoods facing gun violence that don’t have grocery stores nearby. It is this economic and social inequality that is at the heart of his criticism of current elected officials.
“They’ll say, you know, ‘Racism is a public health crisis.’ They’ll say, ‘Equity, diversity and inclusion,’ Shabazz said. ‘They’ll say those things, but really, if that’s not your priority, it’s never going to reflect what your administration will be like.’
As county leaders prepare to build a new county jail, Shabazz said they should invest more money in helping young people and their families with what they lack – rather than locking up more people.
“Make sure there are more resources for all of them, make sure their homes can actually be fixed, make sure all of these things can happen,” he said. . “That won’t happen if we continue to allow the same type of individuals to come into office.”
When the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party met in late January to endorse a candidate for county executive, Shabazz was not allowed to speak.
He needed a nomination from the prosecution during the party’s Zoom meeting which included hundreds of committee members. Shabazz didn’t have one.
“So that’s something that really kind of upset me to some degree,” he said, “that we wish we could at least get to the body and actually get out what our plan and our message was. “
The party endorsed Chris Ronayne. The only other Democrat in the running, former state senator Shirley Smith, dropped out a few days later. Party endorsement, months of early campaigning, connections and considerable fundraising give Ronayne a substantial advantage.
Shabazz said he didn’t expect to get the party’s approval.
“Quite frankly, we know the party didn’t expect us to be the candidate,” he said. “Because I mean, let’s be real. The nomination took place, what, a week and a half before the actual filing deadline? So that created a perception where obviously the party can potentially pick someone first.
Nevertheless Shabazz is still in the race. A week after the approval vote, he filed the signatures he needed with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to vote.