On Tuesday, four candidates for Chicago mayor will steer a new business property tax to provide food and housing for vulnerable Chicagoans, from creating an independent development agency to invest in projects like hedge funds. We shared various ideas until the conversion.
Aldo. Roderick Sawyer, businessman, Willie Wilson, state legislator. Kambium “Kam” Buckner and Paul Vallas, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, met with the newspaper’s editorial board, which operates separately from the newsroom. The challengers, all looking to strip Mayor Lori Lightfoot of his second term, have put forward several different ideologies, but the whole story is that the city is headed in the wrong direction. consensus was reached. The board will meet with other candidates in the near future.
For the majority of the sessions, candidates focused on crime, education, and community investment, particularly in the South and West. Vallas criticized the city and state for closing schools for too long due to COVID-19, blaming some of the increase in street violence.
When asked to address the decline in CPS enrollment, which fell from just over 400,000 a decade ago to just over 320,000 this year, candidates cited a variety of causes and solutions. Wilson blamed crime and high taxes, and both Valas and Sawyer said they would investigate the expansion of CPS’s headquarters.
Buckner said the school enrollment problem reflects a widespread exodus of black residents from Chicago and needs to be addressed for the health of the city and schools.
“For many young people in the school district, if lead pipes don’t understand you, if the constant threat of strikes doesn’t understand you, substandard curriculum will understand you,” Buckner said. are making choices…they are voting with their feet.”
As mayor, Wilson said, “I will close schools that are at 10% or 25% capacity. I will sell them. I will open some as vocational schools,” he said. “Then I took some of the other schools and built buildings in them, created jobs that people could get in those particular schools, and opened the schools up until the homeless stood up.”
CPS would be better served if some of the charter schools that currently operate in “substandard buildings” (estimated at least 80) were allowed to use former district-run buildings, Vallas said. said it would work. “There are charter schools in warehouses and charter schools in parsonages. These are our children,” he said.
“The school district will not allow them to move into these large, vacant buildings under pressure from the teachers’ union,” said Barras, noting that charter high schools are often the closest to black and Latinx students. I pointed out that it is in place.
When the candidates met, they tried to present themselves as uniquely qualified to lead the city. Vallas emphasized his ability to be not only a “weirdo” but also a collaborative and problem-solver.
Wilson spoke about his philanthropy and cash giving, noting that he gave away thousands of face masks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He suggests that every new business coming to the city put his 5% of property taxes into a loan to help Chicagoans, especially those struggling during the crisis, maintain food and housing. Did.
The businessman also joked that although he didn’t finish school, he made more money than anyone else in the room.
“I’m only in seventh grade,” Wilson said. “I ran away from home when he was 13. Now, these people and you guys are probably more educated than I am, but I’m working for someone else, so I’m going to make money.” I will beat you who are earning.”
The candidate also discussed the Invest South/West program, which Lightfoot launched in 2019 as her signature neighborhood investment plan. Mayors frequently hail the program as a transformative effort to revitalize communities on the South and West Sides, but Tribune’s review of the program paints a far more complex and nuanced picture. increase.
Among the findings is that Lightfoot’s administration has spent millions of dollars in public funds, working to spur public and private development in a region that has experienced generations of underinvestment. While she could, the mayor also bundled together millions of dollars she had already worked on before she took office. She took office or made up regular government spending and funded Invest South/West’s total investment.
“The mayor named Rahm Emmanuel’s homework after her,” Buckner said.
Sawyer said Lightfoot’s office did not cooperate with aldermen on the development, resulting in the project failing. Wilson also partnered with big companies to help set up vocational schools, and he said his goal is to have all students master one profession before they graduate from primary school.
Regarding investment, Valas proposed an “independent development agency” to create a fund to promote development.
“Why can’t the city be an equity investor in some of these projects?” Valas said. “Imagine if the city had a 5% investment in Lincoln Yards or any other project across this city over the last 20 years, they would probably be the biggest hedge fund in the country.”
Candidates also talked about crime. Wilson said he would leave Chicago if it was out of control. Sawyer spoke about how student truancy is causing “too many of these crimes,” the ups and downs of intervention programs, and the youth activist-backed “Book of Peace” ordinance. This calls for more investment in non-law enforcement solutions to violence.
Buckner said his uncle died in gun violence at Morgan Park in 2015. The homicide rate is too high and the arrest rate too low, he said, arguing that the city’s tougher curfews passed last year have failed to combat the problem.
Vallas said he would crack down on nepotism in Chicago police promotions, make them strictly merit-based, and eliminate the private security force that patrols the Chicago Transit Authority.
There are a total of nine candidates in the February 28 mayoral election. If turnout does not exceed 50% for him, there will be a runoff between the top two candidates on April 4th.