Note: This is the final in our series of three mayoral candidate forums.
• Recap: Mayoral Candidates Play Nice in Final WTTW Forum
• Bonus video: Candidates participate in a post-forum press conference
• First forum: Jerry Joyce, Neal Sáles-Griffin, Bob Fioretti and John Kozlar
• Second forum: Paul Vallas, Willie Wilson, Toni Preckwinkle, Bill Daley, Susana Mendoza
About this series: This is not a traditional debate. There are no opening or closing remarks. Each candidate will not necessarily get the same questions. And while answers are not timed, our moderator may interrupt at times in an effort to cover as much ground as possible.
Joining us, in ballot order:
Garry McCarthy, 59, is the former Chicago Police Superintendent. He was hired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011 and served until he was fired in 2015 as part of the fallout from the release of police dashcam video showing the fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald. McCarthy also served as head of the Newark Police Department and as a deputy commissioner in the New York City Police Department. In the WTTW voters’ guide, McCarthy says, “Stopping violent crime is our first priority because it impacts almost all of the important aspects of life for Chicago residents. Crime is hindering our economic growth, diminishing our population and tax base as Chicagoans flee the city and undermining our ability to raise up the next generation of local leaders. Most importantly, it is robbing our youth of hope and opportunity.”
Gery Chico, 62, is a Chicago native and an attorney who’s served as chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley, president of the Chicago Public Schools, and president of the Chicago Park District Board and Illinois State Board of Education. Chico previously ran for mayor in 2011. In the WTTW voters’ guide, Chico says, “If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that Chicago is safer and stronger when we’re working together. We are a global city, but we’re also a city of neighborhoods. Without connecting our neighborhoods to downtown, we cut people and communities out of our city’s growing prosperity. In fact, if we don’t invest in people, we diminish everyone’s prosperity because as a city, we are as connected to each other economically as we are through our identity as Chicagoans.”
Amara Enyia, 35, is a public policy consultant and founder of the Institute of Cooperative Economics and Economic Innovation. She previously ran for mayor in 2015 before dropping out of the race and endorsing Bob Fioretti. In the WTTW voters’ guide, Enyia says, “The status quo uses neighborhood difference as tools to divide us; as though what Ravenswood needs is any different than what Englewood requires. I’m here to tell you there’s a better way that gives more to those that have less; and a stronger presence to those treated like they are invisible. … This is our moment to determine if all 77 communities have the boldness to move forward where equity is a matter of policy, where integrity is not a figment of our imagination, and where we can actually trust the leadership that is responsive and amplifies the voices of its people.”
La Shawn Ford, 46, was born in the city’s Cabrini-Green housing project and raised in the Austin community. He has served since 2007 as a state representative from Illinois’ 8th District, which covers much of Chicago’s West Side. He’s also a real estate investor and a former teacher. In the WTTW voters’ guide, Ford says, “In spite of my success, I was acutely aware of the social, economic, educational, and political problems that adversely impacted disenfranchised communities in Chicago. Too many were left behind. I felt strongly that with the right leadership, we could develop a system that worked for everyone. That’s what made me run for office. I made three self-funded attempts against the democratic machine. Despite the odds against me, I was successfully elected in 2006 to represent the 8th legislative district.
Lori Lightfoot is a former senior partner with the firm Mayer Brown, former head of the Chicago Police Board and Police Accountability Task Force, and a former assistant U.S. attorney. In the WTTW voters’ guide, Lightfoot says, “My vision for this office is to create a transparent City Hall that is more responsive and accountable to every person, not just the wealthy and well-connected. While parts of Chicago are prospering, too many areas of the city are starving for resources and are in crisis. I know that we can and must address these disparities so that we spread opportunity to every neighborhood. Since I entered this race in May, I’ve spoken with tens of thousands of people all over the city, so I know that Chicagoans want change. We want a break from the past. And we want a new, independent leader who will empower communities to join together to solve our city’s greatest challenges such as violence, lack of high quality neighborhood schools, regressive taxes, and the pension crisis.”
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