With endorsements for both candidates continuing to pour in and early voting soon underway, the runoff race for Chicago Mayor is far from over.
Both former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson have released attack ads, and polls amongst voters are continuing to tighten, with the latest showing Vallas is holding a lead over Johnson.
The poll, conducted by Victory Research, asked 806 likely runoff voters about their preferences in the upcoming election, with Vallas collecting 44.9% of the vote. Johnson grabbed 39.1% of the vote, with 16% of respondents saying they are still undecided for the April 4 runoff.
The margin of error in the poll was 3.45%, with a mix of respondents on land lines and cell phones, according to the polling company.
But, according to the poll, 18% of respondents said they could change their minds prior to Election Day — meaning that one-third of the voters either haven’t settled on a candidate or could move to the other in the two-man race.
One top issue that hasn’t changed for voters, however, is crime and public safety in the city.Tuesday, both mayoral hopefuls discussed the sticking point at the UIC Forum, with Vallas and Johnson each sharing different approaches to how they would address and improve Chicago’s policing, public safety and more.
Here’s a breakdown of what each of them said.
Policing and Mental Health Intervention
“There’s already a model that exists. We’re just simply saying we have to expand it…There’s actually a model that exists in the city of Chicago where mental health crises, professionals show up. What we need is to actually codified, expanded, grow it and then make sure that local communities get a chance to participate and how it looks ultimately, here’s the problem. We have allowed politics in the city of Chicago to be top down, not under my administration, we all have a collective responsibility to build a better, stronger, safer one.”
“First of all, look, we need to reopen the mental health centers and re-establish community based social services. The police cannot be the only responders, and I said that over and over again. But two years ago, we had 400,000 high priority 911 calls, not responded to in a timely manner, because it was not a police car available in uncertain nights like on the 11th district, which is the most violent district in the city, probably the most violent in the country. There are some nights when there are only half the patrol cars needed to cover beats. And one night there wasn’t a single sergeant. That’s a recipe for catastrophe. Also, there was something like I think over 100,000 domestic violence calls last year, only 10%, of which were responded to.”
Community Violence Intervention
“We want to make sure that the people who are actually closest to the to the to the pain, get to actually help develop and solve the crisis in our community. Look, as Cook County Commissioner, I’m the only person who built an entire budget around Black lives for this very purpose. And President Preckwinkle uses it as a guiding line to implement the Equity Plan, which has put &5 million, now $100 million dollars into crisis prevention. That’s real money. And so I’m the only person on this stage who has actually put forth a budget plan. And I understand why. Because when Paul put forth his budget plan four years ago, he came in ninth place. I understand why you would want to hide that. And so what does my budget plan do? We eliminate the structural deficit that he calls, we make up to $1 billion of investments to make sure we’re sustaining and growing these programs. And we do it without paying raising property taxes. We already have a $2.5 billion property tax bill because of his failures.”
“think it’s estimated that there’s a need of dedicating between $250 to $300 million to violence prevention programs. That’s the model they’ve laid out. And you know, for the last three years, the tax increment financing funds have declared close to a billion dollars in surpluses, that’s not COVID money. That’s surpluses, they’re generating annual surpluses of $40 million. So under a Vallas administration, we will, we will prioritize those programs. But I’m not going to dictate a single program, you now have these elected local police councils, we need to allow the community to identify the most effective programs. And we need to fund those programs not for young one year, but we need to fund them on a sustainable basis. And I’ve outlined the plan on how to do that and how to do that long term.”
“So for example, I’ve talked about dedicating considerable cannabis money, legalizing video poker and dedicating that money, taking full advantage of the of the sports betting dedicating that money in earmarking a portion of annual tax increment financing programs to basically community based anti-violence intervention services. And, I actually proposed that four years ago. So that’s something that’s been consistent. Plus, if you are billing properly, Medicaid reimbursement, private insurance companies that such that you can actually fund the restoration and the reopening of mental health services, if you’re simply getting the reimbursements that you’re entitled to.”
Police Officer Hiring and Retention
“Well, let me point out that two things are happening. First of all, first of all, we’re down to 1,100 police officers, and I’ve talked about filling those vacancies which are already budgeted for but not being filled. But it doesn’t matter. We’re not saving money because we’re spending. We’re spending $175 million in overtime and second, privatizing the security on the CTA. CTA riders believe that the CTA is unsafe, and they’re down to half a million riders a day. And the farebox is only 18% of the operating budget, which means when the COVID money runs out, the CTA is going to go bankrupt. Nobody’s even talking about that. So I’m talking about replacing those private officers with another 300 police officers and then pushing those officers down to the local beats. So this is about taking the existing money that’s been spent on public safety and spending it right, filling those vacancies, pushing those officers down to the local level, because right now, only 53% of the officers that are on the force actually are under the command of the lowest local district commanders. So that’s that’s what I’ve been consistently talking about.”
“We had 11,000, I think, 11,500 police officers when I became budget director, and we very quickly increased ranks to 13,500. You know how you increase the ranks? By not driving police officers out. We’ve lost 1,000 police officers in the last two years. In an average year, we would lose 335 police officers. The right leadership, the right strategy, the right approach will slow the excess you can then double the academy size. And you can also create conditions that will allow hundreds of officers to return you can quickly reduce ranks simply promoting 200 officers to the detective division. It’s not going to solve the problems of crime in Chicago.”
“Everything that Paul is talking about is already proven to fail. Look, I live on the west side of Chicago, it takes two years to become a police officer. Do we have two years to wait for public safety in Chicago? Not to mention, even when you go into our communities, think about how powerful this is. Many of the Black men and women who want to serve on the police force are being raised in some of the most violent communities. Do you understand how powerful that is? When you when you are raised in drama, and you see violence, and then you say listen, sign me up for it. But here’s the problem though, the individuals who actually want to serve on the police force. They’re being excluded. Because of their FICO score, or misdemeanors, the type of trauma that they’ve been raised in that have left families behind, and there are Black folks and Brown folks who still want to serve. Such remarkable human beings to want to serve a system that hasn’t served us. And so all what we’re simply saying is we need to solve crime. How do you engender confidence in policing, and the police that we have right now are not solving crime? Not to mention, you might have a co worker who was a part of a white supremacist organization.”
“So, there are 200 officers who will start working today now that they’re just coming out of the academy. 15 of them are Black people. We have already filled the “vacancies” that will be the result of me promoting and training 200 more detectives. Listen, we’ve already figured this out. The fact that we are spending so much time about policing and we’re not talking about economic, economic opportunity to get jobs, that is the failure of all of this. We know what works. The safest cities in America have one thing in common you know what they do? They invest in people, and that’s what I’m gonna do as mayor of the city of Chicago.”
This story will be updated.
Region: Chicago,Local,City: Chicago
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March 15, 2023 at 06:22AM