CHICAGO — A coalition of African American leaders organized a forum Saturday with less than three weeks until the runoff election in Chicago.
Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas both used the forum to lay out their vision of how they would lead if they became the next mayor of Chicago.
“This is a battle of politics of old that have left Black communities behind versus a better, stronger pathway forward,” Johnson said.
Vallas said it is a battle to make sure every community in the city is safe and secure.
The forum was held inside the Kenwood Academy. Both candidates were asked a variety of questions, including whether Johnson, who is endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, disagrees with the union on any key issues.
“There might be a point within negotiations that the CTU quest and fight for more resources, we may not be able to do it,” Johnson said. “So who better to deliver bad news to friends than a friend?”
Vallas was asked the same question but in regard to the Fraternal Order of Police.
“All too often, the younger officers are sent to the toughest districts where the older officers are sent to the softer assignments, like O’Hare, etc.,” Vallas said.
Vallas said he would keep Chicago Public Schools open on weekends, holidays and in the summer. He also wants to start a paid work-study program for high schoolers to keep them off the street.
Johnson said he would double the number of jobs for youth year-round and invest $100 million in violence intervention programs.
The candidates were also asked, if elected, would they keep or do away with red light and speed cameras.
“We’d look to phase it out if we can because that’s what I’m committed to doing, but in the meantime, if the ticket is taking place in the 60644 zip code, then the revenue should stay in the 60644 zip code,” Johnson said.
“Red light cameras, what about speed cameras, water bills, parking tickets? All those things should be phased out and done away with because they are punching the poorest communities,” Vallas said.
On the Invest South West Program created under Mayor Lori Lightfoot, both candidates said they would and expand it.
Both also promised to increase the percentage of contracts awarded to Black and Latino-owned firms.