Attention Chicago mayoral candidates: Are you listening to millennials?

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CHICAGO — As Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle debate publicly about what the city needs and how they plan to deliver as Chicago’s next mayor, researchers at the University of Chicago hope candidates stop their talking and start listening to millennials.

Researchers want candidates to listen to millennials because they are threatening to leave. Two hundred adults, ages 18 to 29 with varied ethnic backgrounds from across the city, were interviewed for about two hours in 2017.

Researchers fear if the candidates don’t listen, the future of Chicago is moving on and moving out of the city.

Margaret Brower is with the University of Chicago, and along with her co-authors of “Race and Place: Young Adults and the Future of Chicago” sees their recent study as a wakeup call for Chicago and the person who will lead the city for the next four years.

Brower said one third of millennials want to move out of the city. Their reasons include discrimination in the job market, housing and dealing with law enforcement.

“A really surprising finding for us was that 20 percent of African Americans would not call the police under any circumstances and 40 percent said it depends on the situation,” Brower said.

“Young people are saying, ‘When I’m in trouble, I’m not going to pick up the phone and call the police,’” Brower said.

The report showed they care about violence, but not just gun violence. They are affected by sexual violence and domestic violence as well.

When it came to politicians in the city, Asian Americans called their politicians “negligent.” African Americans from Englewood described their aldermen as “invisible.” Latinos in Pilsen said their politicians were accessible but failed to represent their interests in the community. White people said they have a sense of control when it comes to elected officials in their neighborhoods.

“They are one of the most diverse and growing generational groups. they are a strong voting force,” Brower said. “They are a powerful political group and they should be.”

Regardless of which candidate wins in the April runoff, one of the two will make history by becoming the first African American woman to run the City of Chicago.

“In this historic moment are we going to see upheld policies of young whites? Or are we going to see some type of transformative change that will center young adults of color in a different way and has some change over who stays and who leaves?” Brower said.

In the February race for mayor, only 3.5 percent of all votes cast were by people under 25.

For more information on  the survey, visit genforwardsurvey.com.

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