Published: February 2, 2019 8pm
By: Matthew Mata
With a month before the 2019 mayoral election, candidates packed the Chicago Temple for a forum hosted by Chicago Women Take Action alliance, a nonprofit that promotes women’s leadership and social and economic equality. This was Chicago Women Take Action’s first mayoral forum, which was moderated by Julia Stasch of the MacArthur Foundation and Angelique Power of the Field Foundation. The forum’s first panelist included candidates: Amara Enyia, Gery Chico, John Kozlar, Paul Vallas, Toni Preckwinkle, and Willie Wilson.
Candidates were asked to complete a 22-question survey prior to attending the forum that explored whether they would support full insurance-coverage of birth control and abortion, to whether candidates oppose laws and regulations that curb the right to protest, issues the alliance believes not only affect women, but their families and communities. The questions where candidates differed in opinion on, were whether they support ranked choice voting for municipal elections or if they support the Fair Wage week ordinance. An ordinance that would reduce an employer’s ability to change an employee’s posted schedule.
Candidates covered a variety of topics, which included gentrification, TIFs, police accountability, and Chicago Public Schools.
Amara Enyia focused on the need to “evaluate the selective enrollment process CPS uses,” as she highlighted the need for increased transparency across various departments and institutions in the city. She proposed the elimination of the gang database as the first step towards transparency.
Paul Vallas echoed the call for transparency as he called for term limits for all municipal elected positions and banning both outside employment as well as aldermanic privilege, which currently allows alderpeople to block city government or council’s actions towards their ward. Vallas criticized development in the city as “developing vertically and not horizontally,” and argued that ⅓ of TIFs should be put in investment equity funds for the south and west communities.
Communities John Kozlar argued would benefit from his proposed “K-10 education model,” which would allow students to graduate from high school in 2-years and have the option to explore other job training opportunities. Kozlar also advocated for 60% of Chicago Police beat officers to reside within the neighborhood they patrol.
Mariah Moreno, a resident of Chicago’s Pilsen community, attended today’s forum to hear the candidates positions on education issues as she believes, “CPS needs stability right now and I want to vote for the person who can bring that.” Ms. Moreno agrees with Toni Preckwinkle in that current CPS CEO Janice Jackson deserves a chance, “Janice went to CPS schools, so she knows best on what needs to get done and she inherited these problems from the years of corrupt CEOs.”
Both Toni Preckwinkle and Gery Chico called for the removal of Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and the need for a “change of culture” within the police department. Chico argued he could inspire culture change though his model behavior at the top.
Jake Goldwater, of Chicago’s River North neighborhood admitted that today’s forum made his decision a little easier, “This will be my first time voting in a Chicago mayor’s race and for me hearing and reading about the amount of candidates running, I wanted to feel out their authenticity in person and better understand their policies and stances on issues.”
Whether that authenticity was found after today’s event, Mr. Goldwater said, “I came in knowing I had fourteen choices and now I have a solid four on my mind.”
Early voting for the 2019 mayoral elections begins February 11 while election day is Tuesday February 26. To see where your polling location is, be sure to visit the Chicago Board of Elections website or call-in.