Ald. Sophia King says Chicago needs a mayor who can represent the ‘entire city — not just segregated parts’ of it

“There is a lot of dissension between the administration and the police and our teachers. With all of my colleagues leaving — 16 of us — we’re at a pivotal point. We really need some stability in this city,” mayoral challenger Sophia King told the City Club of Chicago.

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Chicago mayoral candidate and Ald. Sophia King (4th) speaks during Project H.O.O.D. and Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s mayoral forum at New Beginnings Church in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.

Mayoral candidate Sophia King, who’s exiting as 4th Ward alderperson, touted her coalition-building skills before a City Club of Chicago audience Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

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Chicago needs a mayor who can “represent the entire city — not just segregated parts” of it, mayoral challenger Sophia King argued Thursday, portraying herself as a bridge builder in a sea of candidates “on the fringes.”

“There is a lot of dissension between the administration and the police and our teachers. With all of my colleagues leaving — 16 of us — we’re at a pivotal point. We really need some stability in this city,” the outgoing 4th Ward alderperson told the City Club of Chicago.

“Chicago deserves a mayor who truly leads with collaboration to get things done. And that’s what I’m offering. I will be a mayor that leads with collaboration to bring us all together to get things done, “ she said.

King then touted a 6 1/2-year record that includes championing the $15-an-hour minimum wage she called “ahead of our time” and a $4 billion development on the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital.

Calling violent crime the “elephant in the room” of the mayor’s race, King said residents across the city have their “heads on a swivel. ... Crime is everywhere.” They’re demanding to know, “Where are the police? We need more police presence.”

King’s plan calls for having Chicago police officers work 10 hours a day, four days a week to get 50% more coverage and still give officers three days off to rest, decompress and spend time with their families.

She also wants to create a reserve of 1,000 retired Chicago officers to put police on the CTA and use retired officers during holidays and festivals so you “don’t have to pull from the neighborhoods.”

King also wants to create an Office of Violence Prevention and combine city funds with private contributions to make a $200 million-a-year commitment to violence intervention programs. Young people at the highest risk would be offered up to $600 a week to entice them to move “from the streets to jobs.”

“We have to put resources into young people so they don’t have to choose” the gang life, King said.

“Too many kids are disengaged. We have to engage them. The best thing you can do is find out what their passion is and hold it over their heads when they’re out of line,” she said.

King is a former high school chemistry teacher at the elite Latin School of Chicago and helped found Ariel Community Academy in North Kenwood-Oakland.

She also touted her education plan, which centers on growing the number of selective-enrollment options at Chicago Public Schools to mirror the “strong neighborhood component” and elementary school feeder program already in place at Kenwood Academy, which she called the “best high school in Chicago.”

Mayoral challenger Brandon Johnson has a tax-the-rich plan to bankroll $1 billion in new spending on public schools, transportation, housing, health care and job creation.

King never mentioned Johnson by name on Thursday but referred to the Cook County commissioner and Chicago Teachers Union organizer when she talked about the candidates who claim that what Chicago needs most to stop violence is to “invest in people.”

“Yes, we do have to invest in people. But doing that is not gonna stop somebody with a gun at your head trying to carjack you,” she said.

Johnson won’t commit to filling 1,700 police vacancies. Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, millionaire businessman Willie Wilson and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia have promised to make filling those vacancies the first order of business.

King described herself as the candidate in the middle, with the experience and temperament to lead.

“This is no time to be flying the plane and building it at the same time. We did that. What I’m offering is somebody with a track record of getting things done, working with people, bringing them together. We have to come together. We cannot let these false narratives on the fringe control the narrative of our city,” she said.

King, whose ward includes Soldier Field, also weighed in on the Bears’ decision to acquire the 326-acre site of the shuttered Arlington International Racecourse, where the team hopes to build a new stadium.

She argued that Lightfoot’s “combative style pushed them away to begin with.”

But after reaching out to now-retired Bears President Ted Phillips, King said the door is still open to negotiating.

“If the state is going to give them incentives, it should be to keep the Bears in Chicago,” she said. “He specifically said to me, ‘We cannot talk right now. But as soon as that deal closes’ — which it did — ‘we can have conversations again.’ I would seek to have those conversations,” King said.


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