Does Kam Buckner have a prayer against Lightfoot?

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In an interview, Buckner, 37, described himself as “a son of Chicago” but one from a city in which people “do not feel safe. They don’t feel the schools are working. Businesses are leaving.”

Lightfoot has tried, he said, but made little progress. “There’s no plan and no urgency to solve it.”

Even Lightfoot’s vaunted Invest South/West program to spur economic development in long-neglected neighborhoods has been more promise than reality, he charged. “I like the idea, but what we’ve seen is a lot of ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting” more than actual new jobs.

One part of the solution is to do a much better job recruiting new police, Bucker said. With the Chicago Police Department down 1,500 officers by his count, due to retirements and resignations, police understandably are having trouble keeping up with crime.

On schools, after a series of strikes, Buckner said he’s taken a more hands-on approach, being personally involved in negotiations if need be.

He was less specific on how to prop up a downtown office market that has been very slow to recover. “I represent much of downtown,” he said, and “We need to find the answers.”

Unlike declared candidates Willie Wilson, Ald. Ray Lopez, 15th,, and (potentially) former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, Buckner comes from the center-left.

The son of a Chicago cop and a teacher, he’s received major funding from labor unions in the recent past. Included in just the past year: $35,000 from groups connected to the operating engineers union, $35,000 from the laborers union, $10,000 from SEIU and $8,000 from teachers unions. But he also got $6,000 from the state’s realtors association.

All of that has led to chatter that Bucker might end up as the stand-in for political progressives and allies, such as the Chicago Teachers Union, in the election, forcing Lightfoot into a narrow middle path.

Asked about that, Buckner said it’s not for him to decide if he’s the progressive in the race. But he did say he’s “had no conversation” with the CTU. “In the past I’ve worked well with labor,” but he also works well with business, he said.

In Springfield, he said, his proudest accomplishments in three years of office include helping to pass a major energy reform package that emphasizes green energy but also shifts costs from individual consumers to businesses, and his measure banning the sale or production of untraceable “ghost” guns in the state.

One issue that certainly will come up against him are a pair of arrests for driving under the influence.

“I made a mistake. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learned from them,” he said.

A graduate of Morgan Park High School and the University of Illinois, he holds a law degree from DePaul University.

Lightfoot has not yet formally announced her plans but has very strongly suggested she will do so soon. As Buckner spoke, she was in Texas, in part raising cash for her re-election.

Some reaction to his announcement came from Lightfoot ally Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th, who chairs the City Council Rules Committee.

Chicagoans, said Harris, must “be wary of those who seek to divide us and reap the benefits. . . .We must remain vigilant against candidates who put themselves ahead of the progress we’ve been making together, or who would rather factionalize our community to grab a brass ring than do the hard work to make change,” she said.

Harris also criticized Bucker for being one of 51 Illinois House Democrats who initially voted to keep Michael Madigan as House speaker last year. Madigan, under indictment in the ComEd bribery scandal, eventually withdrew from the race and retired.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

May 12, 2022 at 04:27PM

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