Mannan Vohra: 4th Ward candidate questionnaire

An independent oversight board to investigate officers and make policy recommendations. A civilian review board to ensure hiring and firing of police. Here’s how 4th Ward candidate Mannan Vohra sounded off on structural police reform, affirming reproductive rights, and more.
Provided by Mannan Vohra.

Election day is one week away. Aldermanic candidates are still sounding off to our community-driven candidate questionnaire. Questions were determined based on concerns residents’ raised to our newsroom over the past year. For those who responded, we’ve posted their answers in the order in which they were received and are not edited in any way.

Here’s how self-described progressive and 4th Ward candidate Mannan Vhora responded to our questions.

What motivated you to run for alderperson and what is your overall vision to create a more thriving, inclusive Harvey?

I am driven by a deep commitment to improving the quality of life for all residents in the community. My background as a healthcare worker with 12 years of experience serving underserved communities, and my academic credentials in psychology, diagnostic medical sonography, and healthcare administration, has given me a unique perspective on the challenges facing our city, and the skills to develop effective solutions.

My vision for Harvey is one of inclusion, transparency, and collaboration. If elected, I plan to address community crime proactively, expand businesses, and improve infrastructure such as sidewalks and alleys. I will prioritize the establishment of programs for seniors and youth, including free health clinics, after-school programs, and vocational training opportunities. I believe that improving public safety, economic opportunities, and infrastructure, while enhancing transparency and community engagement, will lead to a more thriving and inclusive Harvey for all its residents.

Map out your infrastructure agenda for Harvey residents.

As a candidate for Alderman of the 4th Ward in Harvey, Illinois, my infrastructure agenda focuses on improving the overall quality of life for residents. My plan includes collaborating with State, County, and Federal agencies to secure grants for demolishing uninhabitable homes and renovating homes that can be rehabbed. I will also work on establishing new businesses and job opportunities in the area to help create economic growth and stability. Another crucial aspect of my infrastructure plan is to rebuild sidewalks and alleys in the 4th Ward to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility. Additionally, I will work to address the issue of illegal dumping and litter in the community by implementing regular cleanup initiatives and investing in proper waste disposal infrastructure.

Furthermore, I aim to establish programs for seniors and youth of Harvey, including free health clinics, after-school programs, and vocational training opportunities. Working with the Harvey Park District and private sponsors, I will work to establish new parks and provide technological advancements to engage the next generation. I also plan to collaborate with mental health experts to address mental health challenges and provide resources for vocational training and job placement to help equip our residents with the skills they need to succeed. Through this comprehensive approach to infrastructure, I hope to create a more thriving, inclusive, and sustainable community for the residents of the 4th Ward in Harvey.

Detail how you would collaborate with county and state leaders to address the south suburban climate crisis.

I recognize the critical role of collaboration in addressing the south suburban climate crisis. To effectively tackle this crisis, I would work closely with county and state leaders to develop a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes sustainability, conservation, and environmental justice.

This strategy would involve identifying the most pressing issues facing our community, such as air and water pollution, and working together to develop practical solutions that balance economic growth with environmental protection.

To achieve this, I would reach out to key stakeholders across the south suburban region, including business owners, community groups, and environmental organizations, to facilitate open dialogue and ensure that all perspectives are taken into account. I would also seek to leverage existing county and state resources, such as grant programs and technical assistance, to support local initiatives and to promote sustainable development practices. Finally, I would advocate for policies that prioritize climate action and environmental protection at the state and national levels, including increased funding for renewable energy, conservation programs, and climate resilience planning. By working collaboratively, we can build a more sustainable future for our community and create a better quality of life for all residents.

Residents often complain about how city government is inaccessible and overly bureaucratic. How often will you hold ward meetings, and how will you communicate and engage with your residents? With young people?

Effective governance requires accessibility and communication with residents. To ensure that their voices are heard and concerns are addressed, I will hold monthly 4th Ward meetings where I can communicate with residents and actively listen to their feedback. Additionally, I will utilize various communication channels such as social media, email, and phone calls to engage with residents and provide them with important updates and developments.

I am particularly committed to engaging with young people in the community, who are often underrepresented in local government. To that end, I plan to work with the local school district to establish a youth council and engage with students in meaningful ways. This could include hosting town halls specifically for young people or incorporating youth feedback into policy decisions that impact their lives. Ultimately, I believe that an engaged community is a thriving community, and I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure that residents, particularly young people, are involved in the decision-making process.

What will you do to promote and preserve affordable housing in Harvey? Detail your larger housing policy agenda.

I am deeply committed to promoting and preserving affordable housing in our community. Housing is a human right, and it is essential that everyone in Harvey has access to safe, affordable, and stable housing. To achieve this goal, I plan to implement a comprehensive housing policy agenda that addresses the needs of our residents.

First and foremost, I believe in protecting tenants rights and preventing displacement. We will accomplish this by implementing stronger rent control measures and ensuring that landlords are held accountable for maintaining safe and habitable housing. We will also work to establish a tenants bill of rights, which will provide greater protections and security for renters in Harvey.

Additionally, we will increase funding for affordable housing development, incentivize developers to build affordable units and streamline the process for low-income families to access affordable housing. Finally, we will prioritize the rehabilitation of vacant and abandoned properties in Harvey, transforming them into affordable housing units and expanding the supply of affordable housing options for our residents. By prioritizing these efforts, we can ensure that everyone in Harvey has access to safe and affordable housing, no matter their income level.

Homicides in Harvey outpace every other community in Cook County, only second to Chicago, according to county data. Police are reactive, in that they respond to crime after it has already happened. What are policies or initiatives—not including policing—that you advocate for and/or implement to address root causes of crime and violence, preventative measures that create a safer Harvey for all?

As a candidate for Alderman of the 4th Ward in Harvey, I am committed to addressing the root causes of crime and violence in our community, not just relying on reactive policing measures. I believe that investing in our community and providing opportunities for our residents is key to creating a safer Harvey for all. To that end, my policies and initiatives include expanding economic opportunities, improving access to education and healthcare, and addressing issues of mental health.

Firstly, I plan to establish vocational training programs and job placement services in partnership with local businesses and community organizations. By expanding economic opportunities, we can provide residents with stable jobs and income, which can help reduce crime and violence in our community. Additionally, I will work to improve access to education and healthcare, as these are critical components of a thriving and healthy community. By ensuring that our residents have access to quality education and healthcare, we can reduce poverty and improve overall well-being, which can also help address the root causes of crime and violence.

Finally, I plan to work with mental health experts to address mental health challenges in our community. This includes expanding mental health services and resources for our residents and promoting mental health awareness and education. By addressing the mental health needs of our community, we can help prevent violence and crime before it occurs. Overall, my agenda is focused on creating a more equitable and just Harvey, where every resident has access to opportunities and resources that can help them thrive.

What structural or institutional reforms would you advocate for and work to implement to hold Harvey Police Department officers accountable?

As a progressive candidate, I believe that accountability and transparency are crucial in creating a fair and just police system. To hold Harvey Police Department officers accountable, I would advocate for structural and institutional reforms that prioritize community involvement and oversight. This includes establishing a community oversight board that is independent of the police department and that has the power to investigate complaints, hold officers accountable, and make recommendations for policy changes. Additionally, I would push for the creation of a civilian review board that works in collaboration with the oversight board to ensure that community members have a say in the hiring and firing of officers and that the police department is held accountable to the community it serves.

Another critical reform that I would advocate for is the demilitarization of the police department. This means redirecting funds from the purchase of military-grade equipment and weapons to programs that prioritize community engagement and non-violent conflict resolution. This includes the establishment of community policing programs that emphasize trust-building and relationship-building between officers and community members. By prioritizing accountability, community oversight, and demilitarization, I believe we can work towards a Harvey Police Department that is fair, just, and responsive to the needs of our community.

In what ways will you implement new or build upon existing ethics reform ordinances?

I would focus on creating a transparent and accountable government that serves all members of the community. This could involve measures such as ensuring that public meetings and records are easily accessible to residents, establishing a code of ethics and conduct for elected officials and employees, and creating an independent body to investigate complaints of unethical behavior.

Overall, my goal would be to create a government that is responsive, fair, and representative of the community it serves, and that prioritizes the interests and needs of all residents, particularly those who may be marginalized or disadvantaged.

Black and Brown businesses disproportionately shouldered the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. How would you support small business development, sustainability, and job growth in your ward?

I would prioritize supporting small business development, sustainability, and job growth in my ward, with a particular focus on supporting Black and Brown-owned businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This could involve measures such as providing low-interest loans and grants to small businesses, creating incentives for businesses to locate and invest in the ward, and offering technical assistance and training to help businesses grow and thrive.

I would also prioritize creating a supportive environment for small businesses by addressing issues such as access to affordable commercial space, improving infrastructure, and reducing regulatory burdens. Additionally, I would work to ensure that businesses are able to provide fair and equitable wages and benefits to their employees, and that job growth in the ward is inclusive and accessible to all residents, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Ultimately, my goal would be to create a sustainable and thriving small business ecosystem in the ward that supports economic growth and job creation, while promoting social justice and equity for all members of the community.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, throwing abortion rights in the balance. How will you work to affirm reproductive rights and access in Harvey and across the south suburbs?

If elected, my top priority would be to advocate for policies that protect and expand access to reproductive healthcare, including access to abortion services. I would work to ensure that healthcare providers are able to offer comprehensive reproductive healthcare services and increase funding for clinics and organizations that provide reproductive healthcare. Additionally, I would fight against attempts to restrict access to abortion or other reproductive healthcare services. I would also promote comprehensive sex education and access to contraception, which have been shown to reduce unintended pregnancies and improve health outcomes for women and families. To achieve these goals, I would work with local healthcare providers, community organizations, and state and federal legislators to create policies that prioritize reproductive healthcare access and equity.

In addition, I would prioritize centering the voices and experiences of people who have been historically marginalized or excluded from reproductive healthcare. This would include people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities. I would create spaces for these communities to share their experiences and perspectives, advocate for policies that address the unique healthcare needs of these communities, and work to reduce systemic barriers to healthcare access and equity. Ultimately, I am committed to ensuring that everyone in the community has access to safe, affordable, and comprehensive reproductive healthcare, and that reproductive rights are protected and upheld for all individuals in Harvey and across the south suburbs.

COVID-19 is still ripping through communities, paving the way for a long-term, disability crisis with a healthcare system ill-equipped to keep up. Detail your healthcare policy platform with aims to improve healthcare outcomes for Harvey residents.

I understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-standing disparities in our healthcare system, particularly for those with disabilities. My healthcare policy platform aims to improve healthcare outcomes for Harvey residents by prioritizing accessibility, affordability, and equity.

Firstly, I will advocate for policies that expand access to healthcare services, including mental healthcare and disability services. This could involve measures such as increasing funding for community health centers, collaborating with healthcare providers to establish mobile clinics, and working to reduce systemic barriers to healthcare access and equity. Additionally, I will work to promote preventative healthcare measures to reduce healthcare costs and improve health outcomes for residents.

Secondly, I will prioritize improving the healthcare infrastructure in the 4th Ward. This includes advocating for the expansion of telemedicine services, securing grants for healthcare facility renovations and equipment upgrades, and working with local healthcare providers to attract and retain healthcare professionals in the area. I will also work to address the root causes of health disparities, such as poverty and inadequate housing, by collaborating with community organizations to provide resources and support to those in need.

Ultimately, my goal is to ensure that every Harvey resident has access to affordable, quality healthcare services, regardless of income or ability. By prioritizing accessibility, affordability, and equity, we can work together to build a healthier, more resilient community.

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