Candidates Gang Up On Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot For Increasing Crime In First Debate

(Photo by Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere - Pool/Getty Images)

James Lynch Reporter
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Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was challenged by her opponents for the city’s crime surge in the first debate ahead of the mayoral election.

Lightfoot took part in the debate against eight other candidates Thursday night on ABC7 Chicago. Each candidate attacked Lightfoot’s record on crime as evidence Chicago needs new leadership, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Lightfoot offered a version of Chicago as a city recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic with plans to improve public safety, the outlet said.

She acknowledged that “people in the city don’t feel safe” and said, “we have started to change Chicago around for the better” in her pitch for a second term. Lightfoot touted “international household names are coming to Chicago” and named corporations that “could be anywhere in the world,” the Sun-Times reported.

Her opponents, such as former Chicago Budget Director Paul Vallas, presented a more negative view of Chicago under Lightfoot. Vallas, a frontrunner in the race, said the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) under Lightfoot has “failed across the board” and “safety on the CTA has to be a top priority.”

Vallas called for more uniformed police officers on the CTA to address safety concerns. Vallas is leading the competitive field with 26% in a recent poll, FOX 32 Chicago reported. (RELATED: ‘A Mistake’: Mayor Lori Lightfoot Responds To Allegations Her Campaign Asked Teachers To Reward Student Volunteers)

Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the other frontrunner in the race, said that “we can stop the bleeding by making Chicago a safer city. My public safety plan gets to the heart of how we do that.” Garcia, a staunch ally of Independent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, polled in second place with 19% according to Fox 32.

Third place candidate Brandon Johnson, a Chicago Teachers Union organizer, called for investments in youth employment instead of police funding, unlike most other candidates.

Lightfoot placed fourth at 9.8% in the most recent poll despite spending millions in campaign advertising, Fox 32 reported.

Other opponents such as Alderwoman Sophia King took similar jabs at Lightfoot.

“If we don’t have safe communities in good schools, companies and people are going to continue to leave our city,” King said.

Millionaire businessman Willie Wilson said Chicago needs to “take the handcuffs off the police” and community organizer Ja’Mal Green said Lightfoot “has not been connected to the neighborhoods or to what’s going on on the ground,” the Sun-Times reported.

The mayoral election will take place Feb. 28 and the top two candidates will advance to a runoff on April 4 if no candidate receives a majority.