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Mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle on taxes, schools and police accountability

CHICAGO — Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle joined WGN Morning News Monday to talk about the city's mayoral race and her platform to address public school reforms, underfunded neighborhoods and police accountability.

The Cook County Democratic Party Chair and former five-term alderperson is firstly focused on the reach of Chicago Public Schools and school board leadership. Preckwinkle, who says she is a "teacher by profession," noted that Chicago is only school district in the state where residents do not get to elect officials to public school board and favors making positions electable.

"We've got good public schools in Chicago, but they're not equally distributed across the city," Preckwinkle said. "And every neighborhood deserves to have good schools."

Preckwinkle has faced criticism for casting the deciding vote in favor of the Cook County sweetened beverage tax, which was instituted in 2016 and repealed in 2017 because of public unpopularity.

"We made really difficult choices and cuts in our budget and balanced it," Preckwinkle said, "but I think it's important to remember where the money comes from. Half of our revenue goes to support our public health system."

Preckwinkle also commented on how she would address violence and policing in Chicago. She claimed that 15 of Chicago's 77 communities  contain 70 percent of shootings and murders, but that those communities also have high levels of unemployment, under-resourced schools and food deserts.

"We have to have a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the challenges those communities face," she said.

Preckwinkle also supports increasing police accountability.

"Implementing the Department of Justice's consent decree has to be a priority," Preckwinkle said.

Monday is the last day for mayoral challenges of petition signatures of the 21 candidates. Chicago candidates need 12,500 valid signatures by registered voters who only signed one petition. In 2010, the 20 candidates were reduced to six after challenges from election lawyers.