CHICAGO — Public safety may be the biggest issue for Chicago votes, but the economy is also high on people’s list.
Retail abandonment, corporate relocations and fears of crime are hot topics on the campaign trail as the candidates for mayor discuss ways to bolster Chicago’s economy.
At forums and in press availabilities, the candidates have pushed their financial plans.
Ja’Mal Green, who is pushing for a public bank, vows to embrace development plans backed by the Mag Mile Association. He’s also calling for 10,000 new homeowners with a single-family mortgage bond.
Brandon Johnson wants $1 billion in new spending. He plans to pay for it with tax hikes including a Metra City Surcharge, a Chicago Mansion Tax and reinstating the $4-a-month-per-employee “head tax.”
Paul Vallas is touting his experience balancing multi-billion budgets and negotiating numerous collective bargaining agreements. He wants direct assistance for businesses and a cap on property tax increases.
Sophia King, who championed the city’s $15 an hour minimum wage, is stressing the need for greater minority participation in city projects.
Kam Bucker, a state legislator, says he’ll make Chicago’s pilot cash assistance program permanent, and he backs a massive overhaul of the CTA.
Willie Wilson is promising to cut taxes but also funnel money to the homeless, seniors and churches.
Roderick Sawyer, a veteran alderman, is calling for an overhaul of the city’s TIF program and he wants to revamp vacant lots and abandoned properties.
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who has not yet released his economic plan, talks about the billions in COVID resources and infrastructure dollars he secured for Chicago as a member of Congress.
And Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who the challengers blame for the city’s economic woes, says she’ll continue her push for quote, “economic justice.” She holds up her INVEST South/West program, $170 million for housing insecurity, monthly cash assistance for low-income workers and plan to revitalize LaSalle Street.
Laurence Msall of the Civic Federation is paying close attention to the candidates’ proposals, but he says none of their good ideas will matter unless Chicagoans feel safe.
“Really for the business community, immediately, it’s safety. Do people feel safe downtown? Is it safe on the L? Does it feel safe when you’re walking in your neighborhood?” he said.
We’ll hear the candidates address this and other issues coming up a week from today during a 90-minute forum airing right here on WGN-TV 7 p.m. Tuesday.