Mayoral Candidate Forum: Lightfoot vs. Preckwinkle

More: Lightfoot, Preckwinkle clash on campaign cash / Post-forum press conference video

In less than two weeks, voters will head back to the polls to determine Chicago’s next mayor.

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On Feb. 26, former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle emerged as the top two-vote getters from a pool of 14 mayoral candidates. The runoff election takes place April 2, and early voting is underway.

Whoever wins will make history as the first African-American women to become mayor of Chicago.

Joining us, in ballot order:

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. She has secured the endorsements of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune as well as some of the 14 candidates who ran against her in February, including Willie Wilson, Paul Vallas, Jerry Joyce, Gery Chico, John Kozlar and Neal Sales-Griffin. Lightfoot has also gotten the support of Gloria Steinem, Bishop Larry Trotter, former County Clerk David Orr, U.S. Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Robin Kelly and Mike Quigley, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, former Alds. Dick Simpson and Mary Oberman, current Alds. Scott Waguespack, Gilbert Villegas, George Cardenas, Matt O’Shea, Anthony Beale, Derrick Curtis, Emma Mitts and Michael Scott, Jr. Support has also come in from LGBTQ organizations including Equality Illinois PAC, LPAC and the Victory Fund. Lightfoot has also picked up endorsements from Illinois Education Association Region 67, Indivisible Illinois 9th District Andersonville-Edgewater, Democracy for America, Latino Leadership Council, Our Revolution Chicago, Plumbers Union Local 130 and the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2.

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.”

Toni Preckwinkle, 71, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and moved to Chicago to study at the University of Chicago where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Preckwinkle serves as president of the Cook County Board – a position she has held since 2010 and to which she was re-elected in November. She also served five terms as 4th Ward alderman, from 1991 to 2010, and was the Democratic Party committeeman for the 4th Ward from 1992 to 2018. Preckwinkle was elected chair of the Cook County Democratic Party in 2018 after Joseph Berrios was defeated in a primary race for re-election to be Cook County assessor. Preckwinkle has been endorsed by a number of unions and some well-known Chicagoans, including Chance the Rapper and his father, Ken Bennett, who was an aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Secretary of State Jesse White and Valerie Jarrett, white House senior advisor to former President Barack Obama. The Chicago Teachers Union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, SEIU Local 73, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Teamsters Local 700, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter, Planned Parenthood and the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards have thrown their support behind Preckwinkle. Elected officials also include U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Cook County Commissioners John Daley, Brandon Johnson and Stanley Moore. State Reps. Lamont Robinson, Will Guzzardi, Marcus C. Evans, Jr. and Delia Ramirez, state Sens. Robert Peters and Ram Villivalam, and Alds. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Roderick T. Sawyer and Walter Burnett.

In the WTTW Voters’ Guide, Preckwinkle says, “If elected, I will be a tough leader who will take on the old boys club and make Chicago a safe city where all of our students can grow up and fulfill their potential.”

About our candidate forums: 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.

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