Mayoral forums get heated with election three weeks away

CHICAGO — There were fireworks as the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board held two forums with candidates for mayor of Chicago Tuesday. The candidates seemed more combative than usual as a new sense of urgency enters the race with the election just three weeks away.

In some ways, the forum was just a warm up ahead of a televised debate Thursday.

During the Sun-Times forum featuring Bill Daley, Amara Enyia, Garry McCarthy, Jerry Joyce, John Kozlar and Willie Wilson, there were tense moments as the Daley family legacy was closely scrutinized.

"The reason we got into this financial deficit is because of the Daley family. If I am a city worker or retiree I should be upset because they gambled away my pension for years," John Kozlar said.

"Between the public safety and trying a new method there, between the finances and kicking the can down the road, there’s really no more road left, we don’t need any more can-kickers," Jerry Joyce said.

"Rich Daley got elected six times by the people in this city," Bill Daley said in response.  "I’m sick and tired of hearing people talk about the people of this city who voted for somebody six times as though they’re all idiots for doing that."

Former police superintendent Garry McCarty also defended the department’s practices while he was on the job, speaking out against the consent decree and slamming people who criticize his leadership.

"CPD’s use of force, according to the Justice report, is on par with the rest of the country," McCarthy said. "Consent decrees can be a very good thing. This one was shabbily done."

"Police chiefs get hired to get fired, it’s like being a football coach. We know that. And we’re stuck in the political molasses like we have here in Chicago. It took me two weeks when I got here to realize that I was holding a tiger by the tail," McCarthy said.

Amara Enyia continues to make her pitch for young voters.

"We have a report that just came out that show that 1 in 3 Millennials do not see themselves having a future in this city, if you look at black Millennials that number is even more stark. So we have a serious change in direction that’s necessary," Amara Enyia said.

Businessman Willie Wilson stressed the important of providing businesses tax relief.

"You have to lower taxes in order to bring more business in," Wilson said. Raising taxes runs businesses out of the City of Chicago. Right?" Willie Wilson said.

Gery Chico, Bob Fioretti, LaShawn Ford, Susana Mendoza, Lori Lightfoot, Toni Preckwinkle and Paul Vallas clashed over ethics reform.

"There’s been a code of silence with President Preckwinkle’s office and how she’s dealt with sexual harassment," Mendoza said.

"I’m being challenged by somebody on ethics issues who got married in Ed Burke’s house," Preckwinkle  responded.

Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board President, was asked about hiring Alderman Ed Burke’s son, who was reportedly under investigation at the time.

"You know I have to say, I had my staff check. I had 1,000 meetings last year, 1,000 meetings. Staff, community-based organizations, constituents, elected officials, you know, I think it’s really important to be open and accessible," Preckwinkle said.

"With due respect, Madam President, the minute that Ed Burke’s officers were seized, I remember it happened on a Thursday, on a Friday, I was out in public, everybody else was silent," Lightfoot said.

"At the end of the day, you need the type of real ethics reform that’s going to take the money out of the system because it’s the money that’s the real corrupting influence," Vallas said.

"We all pretty much share the agenda that we need to ban outside income, end aldermanic prerogative, and I’ve thrown in the concept of term limits. But none of that is going to be done by the City Council of the city of Chicago. Forget about it. I’ve proposed the Chicago Voter Initiative," Chico said.

The candidates also did battle over neighborhood investment.

"We need to leverage the downtown growth to reinvest in our neighborhoods and we can do that through The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund," Mendoza said. "We also need to do a better job of connecting the transportation system in this city so that it works for everyone in the city of Chicago."

"Let’s talk about the fact that black people in this city even with advanced degrees are unemployed compared to their white counterparts, that’s not right. We have to have a mayor that’s going to deal with this problem head on," Ford said.

"It’s the simple things that make a difference in the quality of life. To make sure that your street is safe, it’s clean, it doesn’t have rats running across it, the garbage is picked up. You walk into some of the wards in the South and West Side and you wonder what are they doing?" Fioretti said.

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