Chicago mayoral candidates Paul Ballas and Brandon Johnson highlighted their campaign strategies in a contentious debate Thursday night when they were given the chance to ask each other questions.
Cook County Commissioner Johnson asked Vallas to deny the group of demonstrators that destroyed one of his campaign events that morning.
Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, did not acknowledge the event, instead saying that “supporters on both sides” caused an uproar during a “rough campaign” in Chicago.
“I’m not sure what he’s talking about,” Vallas said. “At the UIC Pavilion, I was interrupted many times, especially with the closing comments, but I said nothing about it.”
In his rebuttal, Johnson indirectly compared the turmoil to the Jan. 6 riots in the U.S. Capitol two years earlier.
“I know there are a lot of vibrant people, but I also know January 6th was a brutal day for this country,” Johnson said.
Vallas then took his turn to ask Johnson about his past support for the “defend the police” movement and his plans to increase taxes, such as the hotel tax.
“First of all, Paul, I’m not going to defend myself to the police, and you know that,” Johnson said. …You refuse to provide an actual budget plan for how you will generate revenue to save lives.”
Vallas sneered, “I’m basically arguing with someone who’s never managed a budget…so don’t lecture about managing a multi-billion dollar budget.”
The hour-long debate, moderated by ABC-7 anchor Judy Hsu, was the latest forum in which candidates discussed schools, crime and economic development.
Vallas and Johnson also discussed the transition to distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vallas attacked Johnson for refusing to teach directly by the Chicago Teachers Union.
The exchange began after Vallas blamed the surge in juvenile crime on closed schools. He said schools should remain open at night and in the summer and have work and study programs.
Johnson, meanwhile, accused Varath of policies crafted in the 1990s that later led to school closures under former mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“It’s the old politics that betrayed us,” Johnson said. “The opponent is talking about closing schools.
Johnson later argued that there was a link between the violence and communities facing school closures and privatization.
“The only people closing schools here are my opponents,” Mr. Vallas said before touting new schools built when he was leading the school district and increased enrollment at CPS. …Have you been to New Orleans? Have you seen New Orleans after Katrina? 80% of the schools have been destroyed.”
“I rebuilt this school district from scratch,” Vallas continued. “Every child attends either a brand new school or a fully renovated public school managed by the local community board…and the school district, following Katrina, has been stateside for seven years in a row. led the
Johnson countered that there was a “once-in-a-century pandemic,” and said, “I’ve been to New Orleans. I’m going to take a vacation there when I become mayor of Chicago. I came to Chicago today to talk to you about your failures, Paul.
On crime, Vallas and Johnson discussed law enforcement resources and Johnson’s past statements in support of defunding the police.
Johnson said he would hire 200 detectives, enforce consent orders and enforce red flag laws for individuals with guns, while also using the money to invest in violence prevention. , said the city should have police officers on the CTA platform and police officers all over the city and patrol the streets.
“The bottom line is that the opponent is seeking defense from the police,” said Valas in his first negative attack of the night. “He doesn’t want to fill (1,500) vacancies. He doesn’t want to recall retired officers. , that vacancy must be filled and police must be deployed in the community.”
Johnson said, “First of all, I’m not going to defend the police. However, it is misleading as he stepped back from that position during the mayoral election.
Johnson and Valas were asked to talk about how to keep areas like Little Village safe, but again disagreed over police plans. Johnson knocks out Valas, who has criticized his plan to promote 200 officers to detectives, stating: It makes no sense. For these smaller vendors, just know that there are people willing to listen and actually help the community come up with a plan to avoid it. “
Vallas replied that his plan to attract more Chicago Police Department recruits was a better strategy, and that if he restored “morale,” the old officers would return.
“If you want to protect your vendors, you need patrols,” said Vallas, adding that he held a forum with vendors at his office. , and when they called, it could be “two to three hours before the police responded.”
Each candidate has also reiterated their promise not to raise property taxes, and Johnson defended his plans for a round of tax collections, saying Democrats believe in raising taxes on the rich. He then blames Valas for the city’s structural deficit.
“I’m surprised he didn’t criticize me for being behind the grassy hills of Dallas,” Vallas said, before attacking Johnson about finances. I’m not trying to promote business.”
After arguing that Johnson’s plan to add a $4 per employee tax to Chicago businesses and raise hotel taxes was not an idea to “tax the rich,” Vallas said: Wrapped up. Our top priority is to evaluate and evaluate how to use these budgets more effectively. “
Johnson replied: He’s failed everywhere he’s gone, so he’s clearly not very good with budgets. He then defended one of his proposals, a hotel tax increase, remembering his father’s words.
“We’re talking about $1 per room,” says Johnson. “I grew up in the ’80s. My dad is as thrifty as they come. Dad can find a dollar, right?”