The Chicago mayoral candidate spoke out about dirty trains, bus delays and the police department’s low homicide rate during the latest debate, in which Mayor Laurie Lightfoot defended her record.
The latest Mayor’s Forum was moderated by WBEZ Reset host Sasha Ann Simmons and focused primarily on public safety, transportation and education. U.S. Congressman Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, State Rep. Cambium “Cum” Buckner, and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Ballas and Aldo. Sophia King shared the stage with Lightfoot, while the remaining four nominees are scheduled to attend a second event on Thursday.
While the candidates largely refrained from making personal attacks on each other, Lightfoot’s opponents said that while Lightfoot’s administration was making progress, the city was wrong on key issues. He claimed that he was heading in that direction.
Responding to questions about the safety and reliability of the CTA, Buckner said he had planned to take the bus to the forum but was ghosted.
“The reality is that we are way behind the market when it comes to where this system is today,” said Buckner. “It’s because we didn’t have a plan and we didn’t have the leadership.”
Garcia also tore away from CTA’s leadership and promised to bring stakeholders together to improve the system.
[ Where do the mayoral candidates stand on issues? How they answered the Tribune’s questionnaire. ]
“I am deeply disappointed and angry that the buses are dirty, the trains are dirty, people are doing things that didn’t happen just a few years ago,” he said.
King spoke of the need to improve safety and increase passenger numbers.
“We need to pool the dollars we spend on civilian security into officials,” King said.
Buckner similarly criticized the city for spending money on German Shepherds in K-9 units to patrol the CTA, which he said was ineffective.
In 2022, the rate of violent crime on trains will begin to decline for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will be close to the highest level seen in the last decade and more than double the rate before that. Stayed high. Pandemic.
Reports of violent crimes in “L” had increased in the years before Lightfoot took office in 2019. Reports decreased as the COVID-19 pandemic emptied many passenger trains, but not as much as passenger numbers. 2020 and he said 2021 saw a surge in victims of violent crimes such as robberies, murders, or more aggressive assaults and assaults.
In 2019, 2.54 violent crimes were reported per million train rides. It rose to 5.97 in 2020, 6.83 in 2021, and dropped to 6.17 per million in 2022.
Lightfoot has defended her record on traffic and safety, her administration has posted more uniformed police officers on trains and stations, and the CTA has “unimaginably reached its goal.” No, but we’ve made great progress.”
Lightfoot also launched an attack on Valas after expressing concern over the low passenger numbers.
“Again, in honor of Mr. Vallas, part of the reason CTA passenger numbers are down is because of what’s called a pandemic and people aren’t coming downtown full-time like they used to,” Wright said. Foot said. “They are working remotely. Overall, it is impacting not just CTA passenger numbers, but other parts of the economy.”
Across the forums, Garcia repeatedly asserted his position as a consensus builder able to bring together various interests.
“If you want to be an effective leader, you have to be a good listener and a collaborator,” Garcia said. “That’s my preparation as mayor.”
On crime, candidates spoke of short response times and arrest rates. Talking about a “terrible” arrest rate, which refers to suspects being arrested or identified, Buckner said no suspects have been arrested for crimes such as murder, carjacking or sexual assault.
Both Vallas and Buckner have troubled the city with the slow police response, with Vallas saying that retired officers and an enhanced witness protection program need to be used more effectively.
Lightfoot attacked Valas widely in an attempt to link him with the Chicago Fraternity Police Chief, who was controversial for attending a retired police officer’s luncheon this week.
“I know you’ve been away from the city of Chicago for a long time, but most of what you just said is a complete lie. Probably because you’ve been getting public safety advice from John Cattanzara. I guess.
The mayor went on to defend the city’s alleged murder arrest rate and the promotion of detectives during her term, stating: … Easy to say from your point of view, I deal with the police every day.
Vallas then joked about CTA’s budget and gave a series of stats.
Chicago Police have recorded a 51% homicide arrest rate as of the end of 2022, but that doesn’t mean every case is arrested and prosecuted. Each year, about half of the cases are “exceptional,” meaning police have identified a suspect, but the suspect is dead or prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to authorize an indictment. Cleared by a category called . The 51% figure also includes past cases that will be resolved in 2022.
Garcia said leaders need to bring people together and bring Cook County state attorneys, chief justices and other stakeholders in the justice system together to work together.
“I removed the units citywide and got people back into their neighborhoods to patrol, walk the beat and talk to their neighbors,” Garcia said. is essential to increase public safety in the public sector because people have lost that trust.”
At school, Valas had another round of attacks.
Garcia said the city needs to work with community groups that have fallen out of the system during the pandemic.
In 2001, Garcia partnered with protesters during a three-week hunger strike in the Little Village area, eventually convincing then-Mayor Richard M. Daly and the CPS to build a new high school. About three months after the strike ended, deferred plans to build a school were revived by his new CPS government, led by Arne Duncan. The Little Village Lawndale High School campus he opened in 2005.
“Let me point out that I actually funded a high school in Little Village,” said Valas.
Garcia cut in and shot back at Varras. That’s why he was invited to the groundbreaking ceremony. “
King also attacked Valas after he said he agreed to one of her proposals.
“He believes in law and order. There are candidates who believe in defunding the police. “I’m not arguing about women’s right to control their bodies, as Paul did. Ladies, listen to this.”
Although Valas has always claimed to have championed the right to abortion, he personally opposes abortion on religious grounds.
Another candidate, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, showed up at a Chicago city club on Wednesday to reveal his 12-point education plan to an unusually loud crowd that included teachers, union supporters and aldermen. We present a simplified version of
Mr. Johnson has reiterated his support for the Chicago Homeless Ordinance to fund services for the homeless and, if elected, will pass the “Treat, Not Trauma” ordinance within the first 100 days of taking office. promised to pass He also cites his proposal to allow students to ride his CTA for free all year round, whether on their way to school, downtown to his institute of the arts, or on their way to softball practice. advertised.
The plan, in part, calls for the co-location of a children’s center and a medical center in an underutilized school building. “Childcare is a public good and should be invested as such,” the plan said, adding, “The childcare crisis is largely a result of the tax cuts enjoyed by billionaires and businesses across the state. ..if businesses pay what they owe in taxes, Illinois can provide free childcare for everyone.”
Closing his speech, Johnson said Ballas would be a “catastrophe” for the city, saying, “His budgetary practices have led us to our current financial despair. And now he was here.” We want to be trusted with the same budget as before.”
Johnson also voiced his support for District 47 Aldo. Matt Martin ahead of an event just days after Aldo, Lightfoot’s budget chair. Pat Dowell also lined up behind Johnson.
Martin told the Tribune that he chose Johnson because of his commitment to building bridges, his experience with the County Board, and his background as an organizer of the Chicago Teachers Union.