Mayoral hopefuls agree solving crime is the answer — no matter what the question

Candidates often veered back to crime and public safety when answering questions on the CTA, businesses leaving the city and other matters at the forum, which was held on the Northwest Side.

SHARE Mayoral hopefuls agree solving crime is the answer — no matter what the question
Mayoral Candidates wait to walk on stage during the forum at the Copernicus Center on Tuesday.

Mayoral Candidates wait to walk on stage during the forum at the Copernicus Center on Tuesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Complete coverage of the local and national primary and general election, including results, analysis and voter resources to keep Chicago voters informed.

Eight of the 11 candidates vying to be the next mayor of Chicago discussed everything from taxes to the environment at a forum on the Northwest Side Tuesday evening — but they spent much of their time talking about crime in the city, often veering back to the topic when answering questions on other matters.

All candidates agreed change is needed to make city streets safer, but they often did not see eye to eye on exactly what needs to be done.

One point of disagreement came on the controversial Chicago Police gang database and whether it should be revamped or thrown out entirely.

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas said the department should keep the information tool — but make fixes.

“I believe it should be [preserved], but it needs to be revamped and reformed,” Vallas said. “There are many individuals out there … who are all articulating things that could be done to improve the database.”

Mayoral candidates Paul Vallas and Willie Wilson participate in a forum at the Copernicus Centeron Tuesday.

Mayoral candidates Paul Vallas and Willie Wilson participate in a forum at the Copernicus Centeron Tuesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

But activist Ja’Mal Green said the city should instead invest in programs to keep kids from joining gangs in the first place.

“The gang database needs to be abolished. We spend too much time and effort [on] ... systems that are not working. … If we don’t start to invest in the next generation, then what they’re going to do is go back to the streets.”

The forum was held at the Copernicus Center and moderated by Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader. It featured questions from residents, reporters, union members and others, according to the 38th Ward Democratic Organization, one of the groups that helped organize the event.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., did not take part.

Mayoral candidates discuss crime and other issues at Tuesday’s forum.

Mayoral candidates discuss crime and other issues at Tuesday’s forum.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Aside from crime, candidates answered questions on issues including the environment, solving homelessness, Chicago Public Schools and taxes. But many answers circled back to public safety and how solving it could improve other problems facing the city.

When discussing how to revitalize the CTA, Vallas said crime is the biggest issue the agency is facing. He said his priority was to take private security contracts and use the money to hire more officers and put them in stations across the city.

“The way you revitalize the CTA is making sure that it is a safe passage, that needs to be guaranteed,” Vallas said.

And when candidates were asked about corporations such as Boeing moving their headquarters from Chicago, candidate Johnny Logalbo said companies won’t stay in the city if it isn’t safe.

“It’s our obligation to provide safety for these companies and their employees so they do want to stay here,” he said.

Mayoral candidate Johhnny Logalbo responds to questions at the Copernicus Center on Tuesday.

Mayoral candidate Johhnny Logalbo responds to questions at the Copernicus Center on Tuesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The roughly two-hour long forum didn’t provide much combat, but Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson did take a jab at millionaire businessman Willie Wilson when arguing that “those who make the most money should pay their fair share of taxes.”

Johnson said “what’s not fair” is that Wilson “pays the same tax rate as the usher who is in this building.”

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and Ald. Sophia King (4th) participate in a mayoral forum at the Copernicus Center on Tuesday.

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and Ald. Sophia King (4th) participate in a mayoral forum at the Copernicus Center on Tuesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Some members of the audience cheered and clapped, but Wilson’s only response was to laugh off the remark.

Another point of disagreement between candidates came during a question on police oversight, with Wilson saying officers have become too hesitant to do their jobs.

“I believe there are too many rules on our police officers. I believe they can’t do their job when they got, 20 different rules and regulations. We have to use common sense. A police officer sees a crime they cannot chase the person who did it — that’s not common sense,” said Wilson, referring to the police department’s new foot pursuit policy.

State Rep. Kam Buckner responds to questions from the moderator on Tuesday as rival mayoral candidate activist Ja’Mal Green listens.

State Rep. Kam Buckner responds to questions from the moderator on Tuesday as rival mayoral candidate activist Ja’Mal Green listens.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

But state Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, said the problem wasn’t too much oversight, but rather having the wrong people in charge.

“We don’t need more oversight, we need better overseers.”

Other candidates who participated in the forum included Ald. Sophia King (4th) and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th). Like Lightfoot and Garcia, Chicago Police officer Frederick Collins did not attend.

The Latest
Sherman, together with his late brother Robert, won two Academy Awards for Walt Disney’s 1964 smash “Mary Poppins” — best score and best song, “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”
As part of the citywide “Flight of Butterflies” exhibit, ten 6-foot artworks have landed on Michigan Avenue.
Yet, the Sueños headliner filled Grant Park for the first night of Chicago’s biggest annual Latin music event.
The man was in the 1400 block of South Harding Avenue when he was killed around 1 a.m. Sunday, police said.
The women were on their way Saturday night to a police station to make a report when they hit an SUV, according to police.