Being an active member of your community is important, especially when it comes to informing yourself on your federal and local representatives. Right now, it’s all about being in the know about the two candidates running for mayor. This week Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas went head-to-head at the UIC Forum to express their plans for the future of Chicago.
The theme of the event centered around public safety. Many of the topics brought up were about the policing systems, public transportation, youth community involvement, mental health, and violence in Chicago.
To begin the topic of public safety, both Johnson and Vallas denied making controversial comments attributed to both of them.
Johnson, who once sponsored a county board ordinance calling for police to “divest” funding, took aim at a widely circulated video clip. It shows him calling “defunding” police a real political goal, but he now says he was speaking about others, not himself.
“That’s exactly what I meant because that’s exactly what you heard,” Johnson told a reporter. “My public safety plan is an investment plan. We’re gonna promote and train 200 more detectives.”
Vallas on the other hand was denied his apparent calls to “take the handcuffs off the police.”
“Well, please let me know where I said that because … I’ve avoided using that rhetoric, and if I haven’t, I’d be surprised by that quote, because I’ve been careful not to say that one,” Vallas said.
Vallas seemed to commit to spending $250 million to $300 million a year, which Arne Duncan of Chicago Cred says is needed for violence prevention social services. But Vallas said more cops are needed, too, pointing to 35,000 unanswered 911 calls involving violent assaults in progress.
“In 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,” said Vallas.
It seems as though while both candidates were clear in addressing the issue of public safety both gave very misleading answers to questions.
While Johnson has said he doesn’t and has never supported the “Defund the Police” movement, he criticized Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s opposition to “defund the police,” saying the movement is “not just admirable, but it’s necessary.”
When talking about his plan to reverse the trend of crime in Chicago, Vallas said, “It is really time to make criminal activity illegal again,” Vallas said. “It seems that people can simply commit crimes with impunity.”
He also previously stated that local leaders and state legislation were “handcuffing” police and making “proactive policing” impossible.
Johnson definitely had some more confidence and fired some shots at his opponent, but Vallas handled them well and didn’t let it get the best of him. The debate was definitely heated, but it’s recommended that you research both candidates to really get the best view on who you believe is right for your community. The mayoral runoff between Johnson and Vallas is April 4th. Who are you voting for?
By Jeremiah Griffith, Senior, Noble Academy
By Jada Strong, Freshman, Whitney Young Magnet High School