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Shabazz files paperwork, joins GOP field for Indianapolis mayor

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Abdul-Hakim Shabazz on Thursday said the city’s problems ultimately go back mainly to public safety and infrastructure.

The longtime political commentator and radio host is the highest-profile candidate to join the Republican primary for mayor of Indianapolis. Shabazz says he wants to restore public trust in the city and plans to do so by focusing on safety and infrastructure needs.

“Everyone we spoke to, those were their two big issues. Some people live in neighborhoods where crime is an issue, others live in neighborhoods where potholes are an issue,” he said. “It’s like (driving) a moon buggy.”

Democrats were quick to attack Shabazz over his record, something they have not done with his GOP rivals. They called attention to some of his past comments on crime and poverty, including a 2015 op-ed in which he referred to the issue of homicides involving people with extensive criminal records as “a self-cleaning oven.”

Marion County Democratic Party Chair Myla Eldridge said in a statement, “Since moving here, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has spent his time in Indianapolis making fun of women, people of color, and vulnerable residents – but running a diverse city of nearly one million people is no laughing matter.”

Shabazz said he stands by his past comments. He said he considers January’s homicides a more pressing issue than tweets and comments dating back a decade or more.

Shabazz faces at least two other Republicans in the May 2 primary: James Jackson, a local pastor, and John Couch.

In a December interview with News 8 when he first began exploring the possibility of running for mayor, Shabazz said he plans to run as a Republican in the mold of Richard Lugar, a former mayor and U.S. senator for Indiana. Asked Thursday if there is room for a Lugar-style Republican in today’s party, he replied, “There had better be. Otherwise, we’re going to lose elections over and over and over again.”

Meanwhile, incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, faces at least five challengers for his party’s nomination.

The deadline for candidates to file in a municipal election under a major party label is noon Friday.