With 4 days to go before election, controversies plague Preckwinkle

CHICAGO – Chicago is in the final four days to determine the final two candidates for mayor. Voters have until Tuesday to make a choice.

As early voting continues, so do the controversies swirling around Toni Preckwinkle, from the firing of a campaign aide to a potential investigation of a Burke-related fundraiser, the once formidable front-runner, may be faltering in the final days.

Political consultant Jon Paul Valadez said the race is wide open.

“We’re talking a very small margin of error for everybody right now, and it’s really anybody’s game,” he said. “Honestly, it really could be anybody because the leading candidate right now in undecided.”

Heading into the campaign’s final weekend, seven of the 14 candidates for mayor attended a forum at Malcom X College on the West Side.  It was hosted by high school students who asked about the mayor’s role in immigration policy.

“Let me say that as the mayor of this city, if Donald Trump wants to mess with our people, he’s going to hit a wall – and it’s called Susana Mendoza,”Susana Mendoza said.

“Municipal policing should not be working with INS, nor reporting immigration status to INS,” Garry McCarthy said.

But the final Friday of the campaign was dominated by a controversy surrounding front-runner Preckwinkle.

She fired her top campaign aide after he posted an insensitive photo on Facebook comparing Lori Lightfoot to a Nazi.

“I’m very disturbed that someone thought to trivialize what arguably is the worst genocide of humankind and turn it into a political stunt,” Lightfoot said.

Preckwinkle’s campaign did not respond to WGN News request for an interview but in a written statement said:

“As of today, Scott Cisek is no longer affiliated with my campaign in any capacity. His recent social media post was unconscionable and showed insensitivity to the issue of anti-Semitism. It does not reflect my values or the values of my campaign. I apologize to Lori Lightfoot and everyone who was offended by this insensitive comment.”

“I think the fact that you are not willing to face the voters, and frankly face the media – how are you going to be able to govern?” Lightfoot said.

Preckwinkle has had to fire her chief of staff, the head of her security detail and now a top campaign aide.  Lightfoot said it raises serious questions about Preckwinkle’s judgement.

“It shows a pattern that she doesn’t find her way to the right thing unless she’s cornered and caught,” Lightfoot said.

Valadez said the “unforced error” could be costly.

“It’s really important to keep those as tight as possible because there are so many undecided voters going into the election that every little issue, every conversation every unforced error is going to possibly move them to a different candidate,” he said.

The Chicago Tribune also reports that a political consultant is seeking an investigation into whether state supreme court justice Ann Burke violated the judicial code of ethics by hosting a fundraiser for Preckwinkle.

Burke is the wife of embattled alderman Ed Burke.

Preckwinkle calls the accusation "pure politics."

Meantime Paul Vallas said his campaign is surging in the final days and believes voters will choose substance over sound bites.

“It’s really been a tale of two cities and we need a mayor who understands that, who can get the finances into shape, but can begin to allocate resources that develop the entire city,” Vallas said.

The countdown is on with four days to go

Which way will Chicago turn?

The answer comes Tuesday.

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