Name: Sharon Fairley
Office seeking: Attorney General
City of residence: Chicago
Campaign website: www.sharonfairley.com
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? Illinois needs experienced, principled leadership to address the serious challenges facing our state and our nation. We are confronted by almost daily attacks on our civil rights, health and well-being. Our state needs a leader with the legal prowess, courage and tenacity to prevail against the political and corporate powers that seek to divide and exploit us. The legal expertise I gained as an assistant attorney general and federal prosecutor is directly relevant to the attorney general’s litigation and enforcement responsibilities. I worked on a broad array of criminal matters including narcotics and firearms trafficking, violent crimes, financial crimes, complex fraud, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage cases. As the chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and its predecessor agency, I gained valuable expertise in police reform and police accountability and built a complex legal agency from the ground up. In this role, I also demonstrated the independence and courage to hold the powerful accountable.
What do you view the role of the attorney general's office to be in terms of law enforcement? The attorney general’s office should play a more proactive and strategic role in promoting public safety state-wide by partnering with and providing guidance and support to state’s attorneys and law enforcement agencies. The office should work to identify and promote evidence-based strategies for fighting violent crime. The office should help coordinate enforcement of gun trafficking laws. The attorney general can also play a bigger role in promoting police accountability, not only in Chicago, but statewide. The attorney general should work to develop and promulgate use of force policies based on best practices in law enforcement and advise law enforcement agencies on police accountability practices. The attorney general should also work closely with the legislature to pursue changes that optimize the impact of legislation related to police accountability already on the books, and to ensure that future legislation is workable from a law enforcement perspective.
How would you view the relationship between the attorney general's office and state's attorneys in each county? The attorney general should work to ensure that the state’s attorneys have the resources, expertise and political will to prosecute political corruption matters and environmental crimes and effectively enforce the law.
What is the most important issue facing the attorney general's office? How would you approach it? The Trump Administration represents a threat unlike any other our democracy has faced in recent history. I look forward to leading the fight against the unjust and unconstitutional attacks on vulnerable communities and the foundations of our government. I will join the coalition of Democratic Attorneys General and find out what more the office can do to better protect citizens from the harmful and regressive policies of the Trump Administration. I will work to assign legal teams to use the powers of the office to combat unconstitutional federal policy positions in areas such as criminal justice and police reform, immigration, education, voting rights, civil rights and the environment. In addition, upon taking office, I will implement a 60-day strategic planning process through which we will clarify the office’s vision, evaluate the organizational structure and infrastructure, and assess how well resources are being deployed in support of the office’s core mission and functions. This will create a blueprint for short and long term plans for how the office will be organized. An essential component of the strategic plan will be to leverage technology to improve the quality and efficiency of the office’s work processes, communications, and data management.
What other issues would you focus the attorney general's office on? Criminal Justice Reform:
- Addressing over incarceration through diversion programs, problem-solving courts and sentencing reform
- Reducing recidivism by providing wrap-around services such as job training, housing assistance, educational opportunities and mental health and substantive abuse treatment.
- Eliminating discriminatory and punitive bail and court fees and fines Identifying and implementing programs to reduce/eliminate the impact of systemic bias throughout the criminal justice system (e.g. implicit bias training).
Government integrity and transparency:
- Working with the legislature to enhance the checks and balances in place to hold political leaders accountable
- Serving as a resource for state agencies and local governments regarding policies and programs that enhance government integrity and accountability
- Enhancing the AG’s powers as to criminal prosecution of government corruption
- Filling the void left by the Trump and Rauner Administration’s lack of enforcement by pursuing polluters through swift legal action that results in remediation, prevention of future harms, and appropriate fines
- Prioritize underserved communities that take the brunt of environmental harms
- Advocating for forward-thinking policies such as moving to 100 percent renewable energy and lowering vehicle emission standards Protecting citizens against unnecessary and unwarranted rate-hikes for services
What are your views on the legalization of marijuana debate? I support the legalization of marijuana so long as we are careful about regulating its use and distribution so as to ensure public safety. As attorney general, I would provide guidance to the legislature and law enforcement based on the best practices established by the handful of states that have already fully legalized marijuana.