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Sun-Times, AARP ‘Hear Our Voice’ election forums

The April 2 runoff election for Chicago mayor will make history by any account; the city for the first time will elect an African-American woman as its top executive.

In advance of that, leading journalists and political experts from the Chicago Sun-Times, AARP Illinois, WVON-AM (1690) and the Chicago Reporter are teaming up to let candidates Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle hear voters’ voices on the issues that matter most.

The free “Hear Our Voice” community forums are set for March 13 in Hyde Park and March 18 in Pilsen. Subjects and questions raised by community members at the events will be posed to the candidates when AARP holds livestreamed “Telephone Town Halls” with them later in the month.

Each forum will provide voters with expert analysis of election events to date and include discussion of an AARP Chicago survey that shows older adults are considering leaving the city because of concerns about affordability, essential services and public safety.

Then, audience members will be invited to ask panelists about key issues in their neighborhoods, setting the table for the AARP Telephone Town Hall discussions with the candidates.

The first forum is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. Panelists will include award-winning Sun-Times columnists Mark Brown and Mary Mitchell, AARP Illinois State President Rosanna Marquez and WVON’s Maze Jackson. Jackson’s morning show airs weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Starting Thursday, he’s launching a weekly podcast with AM-560 The Answer’s Joe Walsh called “Uncomfortable Conversations,” which can be downloaded at

The second forum is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, March 18, at the at Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western Ave. Brown and Marquez will be joined by Chicago Reporter Editor-in-Chief & Publisher Fernando Diaz and Sun-Times reporter Carlos Ballesteros for the panel discussion.

Sun-Times Editor-in-Chief Chris Fusco will moderate both forums.

While both events are free and open to the public, advance registration is required. For registration details, go to