One day after the shooting of a 1-year-old boy on the city’s Far South Side, five mayoral candidates on Friday disagreed whether Chicago’s violent crime is best addressed with immediate action or long-term approaches.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford said it isn’t the mayor’s responsibility to “catch the killers,” but to build up a police force that can deter them. The West Side Democrat said that starts with dealing with “racism and discrimination” in the Chicago Police Department and addressing how a lack of community trust furthers a cycle of crime.
“We have to have a mayor that’s willing to face that head on and say that [they] will not tolerate racism in the police department because it’s costing the city so much,” Ford said at the Fox 32 forum.
Austin Chamber of Commerce director Amara Enyia said her priority was reinvesting in neighborhood resources such as mental health services to tackle the systemic problems behind violence.
But moderator Mike Flannery and other candidates pushed back on those long-term solutions for their lack of urgency.
Former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley proposed immediately hiring more detectives. Especially in crimes with child victims, he also advocated for a stronger approach from police, as he doesn’t “sense the [appropriate] outrage” from the department after Thursday’s shooting.
Former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot disagreed, saying the department only briefly cared about the low homicide clearance rate when it got media attention but quickly lost interest. She said the department has to change its culture.
“Adding more detectives into a broken system … isn’t going to solve the problem,” she said.
Former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy also prioritized building up government trust over additional hiring. But when it comes to actually solving crimes, he said the “witch hunt” by Mayor Rahm Emanuel following Laquan McDonald’s shooting continues to impede progress today as two consecutive chiefs of detectives were “forced out of the job.”
“That has a brain drain effect on what’s happening,” McCarthy said.
On education, no candidate directly supported another round of school closings. Ford said he would work with the Chicago Housing Authority to issue contracts to rebuild vacant and abandoned houses to encourage families to stay in the city. Daley reiterated plans to create neighborhood councils — as opposed to local school councils — to promote a focus beyond individual schools.
Enyia named CPS’ student-based funding model as the issue and called for a new approach, while advocating for re-investment on the city’s South and West sides to keep kids in Chicago.
“You have high-quality seats in schools that are located in neighborhoods that have been disinvested [from] but the narrative prevents families from wanting to send their kids to those schools,” Enyia said.
Daley also addressed his absence from the previous night’s forum. Daley pulled out of the event at the last minute to accept an endorsement from the Plumbers Union Local 130 — to the criticism of state Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s campaign that he was “running and hiding.”
Afterward, Daley said he didn’t think he got off any easier by opting for Friday’s panel.