CHICAGO — The two election runoff candidates for Chicago’s Mayoral race faced off in their third debate ahead the April 4 election.
The Your Local Election Headquarters: Chicago Mayoral Debate took place on Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at WGN’s studios on Chicago’s North Side.
You can watch the entire Chicago Mayoral Debate in the video player above.
Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson meet for their third debate since they were announced as the runoff winners from the Feb. 28 election.
During the February election, Vallas received 33% of the votes compared to Johnson’s near 22%.
Since then, Vallas has been endorsed by at least 20 council members and three of his rival candidates, including Ja’Mal Green, along with the FOP and a number of trade unions.
Johnson’s endorsements include national leaders, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Illinois’ Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as well as the Chicago Teachers Union and several public sector unions.
WGN News anchors Lourdes Duarte and Tahman Bradley will moderate the debate between candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson.
Many issues that are important to Chicago residents will be asked, including public safety, education, economy, and much more during Tuesday’s debate.
This article will frequently update as the Mayoral candidates answer the WGN moderators questions.
If elected, will you pursue moving money from the Chicago Police Department Budget to pay for other services?
Johnson: “I am not going to defund the police. I’ve made that very clear. But, I’m going to do is make sure we implement a smart plan. This is why I am very much committed to making sure we are promoting and training 200 more detectives because we have to solve crime in the city of Chicago. Our clearance rate is abysmal, particularly Black and Brown communities.” We’re going to make sure we spend to implement without all expediency the consent degree.”
How can you ensure your plan won’t put additional burden on Black and Latino Chicagoans?
Vallas: “Enforcing or passing a newsense ordinance that will result in people being arrested for destroying public and private property, for going in and basically stealing, or burglaries, or for that matter, publicly trespassing, and intimidating and even insulting people in the process. The bottom line is that there has been a reduction of 76% in arrests since 2019, despite the fact that crime has escaladed.”
See the full candidates response on policing and public safety above.
What should voters make of your FOP endorsement?
Vallas: “At one time, I think (Chicago FOP President John Cantanzara) had actually contemplated running himself, so at the end of the day, I don’t think they had a choice. It is the same thing with the sergeants. Initially, the sergeants had decided not to endorse the rank-and-file, basically compelled them to provide reconsideration and then they endorsed me overwhelmingly.”
How will you repair the relationship between rank-and-file police and city hall?
Johnson: “I’ve said over and over again, that the best way police officers are supported is to give them the opportunity to actually do their job. What we’ve heard repeatedly, from rank-and-file members of the police department, is that in many instances rank-and-file members do not know who their supervisor is day to day. We do have supervisors who supervisors the supervisors. That’s like me as a teacher, showing up to work every single day, and I do not have the same principal in the building. So, one of the things we have to do is to make sure there is some consistency and supervision, but we also have to make sure we pass treatment, no trauma because it will free up law enforcement to deal with the most violent crime.”
See the candidates full response to the relationship between rank-and-file police and city hall above.
City budget, taxes, and pension
Vallas: “Coming right out and proposing $800 million in tax increases, including a potential an income tax increase, even if that income tax increase is on commuters, a head tax on businesses, increase on the hotel-motel industry is the absolute wrong approach to take.”
Vallas continued saying: “I think tackling the $28 billion spending that the city does every year is the first order of business and not tax increases.”
Vallas also added he has “no intention on raising property taxes,” but he plans on advocating for an “individual property tax caps on homeowners, as well as businesses and apartment owners.”
Johnson: “We’re going to fix the structural deficit, that Paul Vallas called for in the 90’s, we’re going to make sure we can provide up to $1 billion of new investments over the first term that I serve, and we’re going to do it without raising property taxes.”
See above for the candidates response to their plans for the cities budget, taxes, and pension.
How can you attract businesses to the City of Chicago?
Johnson: “The safest cities in America all have one thing in common: they invest in people. We fully fund our neighborhood schools, we make sure we have economic development, we make sure that those who have the entrepreneurial spirit have the opportunity to actually have an opportunity to actually build a business and grow it.”
See the candidates response on how they can attract businesses to the City of Chicago above.
Candidates plans for education in the City of Chicago
Johnson: “We have a funding formula that the Chicago Public Schools have not implemented. It’s a new funding formula that basis’ our investment on the need and by embracing the funding formula, that I organized along with other people across the state, by implementing that funding formula it provides the additional support and resources that our families deserve.”
Vallas: “Open the campuses through the dinner hours, on the weekends, over the holiday’s, over the summer, and increase the instructional time on task. In addition, create work study jobs for the high school kids, with all of the city agencies, departments, contractors, and the unions, who will engage and involve youth in work study opportunities. Those are things we can do.”
See the candidates plans to address their plans for education in the City of Chicago above.
Do you want republicans to support your campaign?
Johnson: “What I don’t want is someone who fundamentally opposes abortion. The City of Chicago doesn’t want it. That’s what we don’t want. We don’t want someone who is supported by leadership that believe the Jan. 6 insurrection was the right thing to do. What we don’t want is supported financially by people who also financially supported Donald Trump. No, the City of Chicago doesn’t want that.”
Vallas denied Johnson’s claims that he is a republican.
See the candidates full response to the question in the video player above.
Vallas on how voters can trust his management skills
Lourdes Duarte asked mayoral candidate Paul Valles to address the fact that he came under fire for posts that were “liked” by your social media accounts, including one on Facebook calling Chicago a “hell hole.” Vallas claimed those accounts are not managed by him personally.
See the Paul Vallas response in the video player below.
What is your timeline for restoring full public access to live police scanner transmissions?
Johnson: “As soon as possible. We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to have a free and open society.”
Vallas: “You need to restore it. It’s ridiculous. I mean you need to go beyond that.”
Vallas continued to say, “the city must become transparent when it comes to the dissemination of data. And, I believe that the failure to allow people to access that data really puts people in harms way because when crimes are being committed around the block, you need to know about it.”
See the candidates timeline in the video player below.
Watch the candidates closing remarks in the video player below.
Additional coverage, including reaction and analysis, followed Tuesday’s debate on WGN News at Nine with anchors Ray Cortopassi, Dina Bair and political analyst Paul Lisnek.