Chicago mayoral forum highlights some differences

Special to News-Star

The Chicago Teachers Union hosted a mayoral forum on November 19 entitled reversing the push-out of Chicago’s Black families and building a city that works for the many, not the few.

Toni PreckwinkleThe mayoral candidates who attended were Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza, Lori Lightfoot, Amara Enyia and Paul Vallas. Each candidate touted their progressive values in front of the audience of teachers and union workers.

Illinois Comptroller Mendoza said she favors an amnesty for city tickets that has hurt low-income residents, and stated she is for a progressive income tax, like the newly elected governor.

Enyia, who ran for mayor before and received big checks from hip hop artists Kayne West and endorsement from Chance the Rapper, said the city should create a public bank because the large banks milk the city via enormous interest rate payments.

Vallas, who was the Chicago Public Schools chief under Mayor Richard Daley in the 1990s, said the city should implement spending controls, cap local property taxes and eliminate all red light cameras.

President of the Cook County Board Preckwinkle said she supports a living wage of $15 per hour and more job training.

Preckwinkle refused to run in the last mayor election despite the fact that she was leading in the polls against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Vallas noted that the city controls a budget of $20 billion, so it should take take advantage of federal taxes and use the Amazon tax incentive to invest on the South and West sides.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza is close to Rahm Emanuel. When it comes to fighting crime, two of the candidates supported a tough on crime position, while the others took a more holistic approach. Mendoza said the city needs to hire more detectives and Vallas noted the police department has been “gutted,” while Enyia said the city needs to invest in mental health clinics. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who will not run for re-election, closed almost half of the mental clinics when he first won in 2011. Lightfoot said crime is a result of racism and segregation and Preckwinkle said the low-income communities need more investment to deter crime.

When it comes to investing in the public schools, every candidate touted their credentials. Vallas said he inherited a school system with a huge deficit and left it with $1 billion cash on hand. Enyia said she has helped to fight to keep National Teachers Academy open, Lightfoot said they need to rebuild the neighborhood schools, and Preckwinkle and Mendoza said they favor an elected school board.

The housing crisis was another topic the candidates discussed, where the city needs 119,000 units of affordable housing. Vallas said the city should add more garden units to rent out and local developers should play an even bigger role and Lightfoot said the city needs a real estate homeowner’s tax to fund homeless housing. Preckwinkle said she supports repealing the ban on rent control. Enyia added that the city should make sure there are no incentives to put affordable housing in certain parts of the city.

The moderator then allowed the candidates to ask each other a question. Mendoza perhaps got the best punch in when she asked Preckwinkle why she did nothing for eight years on the county board to change the broken property tax system. The city is starting to correct property assessments where residents in poor neighborhoods were over-assessed and property owners in wealthier areas were under-assessed.

Chance the Rapper endorses Amara EnyiaEnyia got in another hard punch at the comptroller when she noted that Mendoza supported the mayor during his reign of closing 50 public schools, closing mental health clinics, and supporting wealthy developers and corporations at the expense of the people. Mendoza countered that she took on Gov. Bruce Rauner. Vallas was the only candidate to refuse to ask a question.

Lightfoot said she would open some CTA stations that were closed in areas of the city that need investment, while Preckwinkle noted that even though 50 percent of the city is minorities, 86 percent are in jail due to “hyper policing.”

Mendoza said she supports a two-year moratorium on closing schools.

The next mayoral candidates forum will be December 13 from 4 – 5:30pm at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave. and will focus on disability rights.

A LGBTQ Forum with the Chicago Mayoral Candidates will take place January 19, 2 – 4pm at the Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 Michigan Ave.


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