Chicago mayoral debate: Johnson and Wallas conflict over police


Chicago mayoral candidates argued over public safety in a televised debate Thursday night ahead of the April 4 runoff runoff that was the final race for the big city’s mayoral seat. check the opinion of voters about crime and the police.

Paul Wallas accused progressive rival Brandon Johnson of supporting the “defend the police” movement, while Johnson stated that Wallas’ plans to increase police hiring would be slow and unrealistic.

Wallas and Johnson, who both said they were Democrats and were competing in a non-partisan struggle, advanced to the runoff after the Feb. 28 primary. Laurie Lightfoot finished thirddashing her hopes for re-election.

Chicago is a predominantly Democratic city: 83% of its voters supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. But Wallas and Johnson are on opposite sides of partisan differences over police policy.

Wallas, a more conservative former public school principal supported by the Chicago Police Fraternal Order, has focused his campaign on pro-policing and fighting crime. He promised to stop the exodus of city police officers and increase the number of police officers on Chicago Transportation Authority buses and trains.

Johnson, a progressive Cook County commissioner supported by the Chicago Union of Teachers, has occasionally supported the “defend the police” movement. Now he says he will not cut police spending, but will seek to invest more in poor areas.

In Thursday night’s debate, which aired on ABC 7, Wallas repeatedly highlighted Johnson’s previous comments in which he broadly supported a reallocation of public funds from policing to community programs.

“I’m not going to defund the police, and you know it. Do you know that. I have overcome multi-billion dollar budgets over and over again,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he would appoint 200 new detectives to solve more serious crimes. He also said he would strive to combat gun violence by more vigorously red flag lawswhich allows courts to temporarily seize firearms from anyone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

“The best way to build trust in public safety is to catch people,” Johnson said.

Wallas said he would quickly fill thousands of police vacancies and place those officers in public transport and communities.

“There is no alternative to returning to policing in the community,” Wallas said. “You can’t be sure of the safety of public transport when there are no cops on the platforms and no cops in the stations.”

The race focused mainly on crime. Violence in the city increased dramatically in 2020 and 2021. And while shootings and homicides have declined since then, other crimes, including burglaries, auto thefts, robberies and burglaries, have increased in the past year, according to Chicago Police Department 2022 data. annual report.

In their previous debate, Wallas was mostly looking to stay above the fray while Johnson went on the offensive. But on Thursday night – in a move that heralded a more contentious turn in the race with at least three more debates and three candidate forums remaining – Wallas went on the offensive in the opening minutes of the debate.

Wallas criticized Johnson’s proposals to increase a number of taxes, including taxes on hotels and aviation fuel, a $4 per person business tax, and a higher sales tax on luxury real estate.

Johnson responded that Wallas was offering to increase public safety spending, without specifying how he would pay for it.

“You can’t make a multi-billion dollar budget from selling baked goods,” Johnson said.

The two also clashed over school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic and the role of schools in fighting crime.

Wallas said he will aim to open public schools for students during periods when they are normally closed, including weekends, summers and holidays, to “give children a safe place to walk.”

He also criticized Johnson, who is a union-backed teacher who has publicly fought Lightfoot over when to return to face-to-face teaching, for school closures.

According to Wallas, fifteen months of closure is “not an investment in people.”

Johnson said Wallas used a “Republican perspective” in criticizing school closures during the pandemic.

“It’s part of your party,” Johnson said, showing how he tried to portray Wallas as too conservative for a predominantly blue city.

Biden and other senior Democratic officials, including an Illinois state senator. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and the Governor. J.B. Pritzker missed out on the second round.

Independent Vermont State Senator. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sep. Elizabeth Warren and member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Jim Clyburn is one of those rare national votes that have entered the race for mayor, and they all support Johnson. In a statement this week, Sanders said Johnson “was an advocate for working families in Chicago.”

Wallas has powerful local supporters, including several city aldermen and former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who was the state’s Democratic leader four times. Meanwhile, Toni Prequinkle, president of the Cook County Board, backed Johnson.