11 Chicago mayoral candidates attend forum at Temple Sholom
The candidates took questions on public safety, housing insecurity, antisemitism and education. Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not attend.
Most of the candidates in the running for mayor of Chicago joined in a forum at a synagogue on the North Side Wednesday evening, addressing public safety, housing insecurity, antisemitism and education.
The forum took place at Temple Sholom, 3480 N. Lake Shore Drive, and featured 11 of the 14 candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring. Rabbi Shoshanah Conover posed four questions to the candidates, who each had two minutes to answer. The candidates received the questions in advance.
A majority of the candidates shared the same ideas on how to address public safety issues, the first topic discussed. They said public safety needs to be addressed by investing in neighborhoods that experience the most crime.
“It’s about repairing broken neighborhoods, broken schools,” community activist Ja’Mal Green said. “When you talk about public safety you have to talk about investing in neighborhoods, from increasing the home ownership rate so we can repopulate the neighborhoods and bring more stakeholders to the blocks, and increasing small businesses.”
Candidate Frederick Collins, a Chicago police officer, said he didn’t agree with the implementation of the SAFE-T Act, which eliminates cash bail and increases police oversight and accountability, adding that it would lead to more crime.
“I’ve seen the guilty walk right out of the courtroom,” Collins said. “And if we get rid of cash bond they will continue to do so.”
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said the city needs to take a cautious approach to bail reform, and not simply look at what other states are doing to achieve the goal, alluding to New York, where similar laws were enacted recently.
“Every case is different, and we must be compassionate but cognizant of the fact that every case is unique,” Lopez said.
The candidates also agreed on the issue of antisemitism and other hate crimes, saying that there must be a zero-tolerance policy in the next administration toward prejudice of any kind. Most also mentioned increasing funding for civic and cultural programs in the city to teach young people about diversity.
“The hate for your people is the hate for my people,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said. “It all come from a common ignorance.”
“Speaking out and standing up against hate speech and acts of violence needs to be addressed directly,” said Ald. Sophia King (4th).
Answering a question on how his administration would address housing insecurity, state Rep. Kam Buckner said “homelessness is a solvable problem. We have to have a process in place so that the people that do become homeless, the homelessness is quick and not as painful.”
He proposed opening more mental health clinics, building more temporary housing and reopening the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson said the easiest thing to do would be to support increasing the real estate transfer tax on property sales of $1 million or higher and using that money to help those seeking a place to live.
“We have to shift the mindset and address causes of homelessness,” said former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas. “We never look at mental health, job training and addiction issues.”
Rabbi Conover asked the candidates how they would work with the Chicago Teacher’s Union to address education. Time was short, so each candidate was limited to a quick one-minute answer.
The other candidates present at the forum were John Thomas; retired Air Force Capt. Dennis Doran; and Chicago Police Department Freedom of Information Act Officer Robert Earnshaw.