U of C Institute of Politics to host mayoral forum on crime and violence

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Mayoral candidates answer questions regarding Chicago’s black community during a forum hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists - Chicago Chapter and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Two weeks after the Feb. 26 mayoral election, the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics will attempt to shape the Round Two debate, with a mayoral forum devoted exclusively to the issues of crime and violence.

Since 2011, Chicago has recorded more than 4,000 homicides. Another 19,000 people have been wounded. The gang violence that continues to plague neighborhoods on the city’s South and West Sides has triggered steady population losses and a black exodus from Chicago.

It has driven businesses out of the city and undermined Chicago’s reputation as a center for conventions and tourism.

To confront the vexing issue head-on, the Institute of Politics will hold a 90-minute forum on March 13 for the sole purpose of discussing crime and violence.

The forum that promises to shape the debate for an almost certain mayoral runoff starts at noon at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. before an audience of roughly 350 students and area residents.

The forum will begin with an overview from Jens Ludwig, director of the U of C Crime Lab. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington, a Pritzker Fellow at the Institute of Politics, will serve as moderator.

A panel of experts will question the mayoral candidates. Panelists are: Charles Ramsey, the 30-year veteran Chicago Police officer who went on to serve as police chief in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.; Liz Dozier, the former Fenger H.S. principal now serving as founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond; and award-winning journalist and author Alex Kotlowitz.

Nine of the 14 mayoral candidates already have agreed to participate if they advance to the April 2 runoff. They are: Gery Chico; Amara Enyia; Bob Fioretti, La Shawn Ford; Lori Lightfoot; Susana Mendoza; Paul Vallas; Willie Wilson and Jerry Joyce.

David Axelrod, the former Obama presidential adviser, now co-founder and director of the Institute of Politics, noted that Chicago remains a “tale of two cities” when it comes to crime and violence.

“Much of our city is safe and prosperous, but some of our neighborhoods are besieged by intolerable levels of crime and violence,” Axelrod was quoted as saying in a press release.

“We have assembled a thoughtful panel to probe the candidates and, we hope, dig deeper on this grave challenge to our community.”

Although only eight mayoral candidates have committed, Axelrod noted that responses from others are still pending.

“We hope and trust that any candidate who is offering him or herself as the next mayor will seize this opportunity to lay out their plans to address a problem of extraordinary concerns to so many of our citizens,” he said.

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