Chicago mayor election 2023: All 9 candidates face off in ABC7 debate

Topics ranged from crime to affordable housing to youth mental health

Thursday, January 19, 2023
9 mayoral candidates face off on big issues facing Chicago
The nine candidates for Chicago mayor tackled topics ranging from crime to affordable housing to public transit to youth mental health in the ABC7 Mayoral Debate.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- All nine candidates in the Chicago mayoral election are facing off in a debate at ABC7 Thursday night.

The debate, which is presented in partnership with the League of Women Voters, was moderated by ABC7's Judy Hsu.

There was much at stake tonight for Mayor Lori Lightfoot as the incumbent, but also for the eight challengers she will face on February 28. As each makes the case to voters, they hope to get their message out and give their campaigns a boost.

Lightfoot came under fire from her challengers, especially on the issue of crime.

WATCH: Will there be a runoff in the race for Chicago mayor?

ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington weighed in after candidates debated ahead of the Chicago Mayoral Election.

"Many of us thought that this administration would raise the bar, but all we've seen is raised bridges, attempt to raise taxes, and a raised murder rate," said Kam Buckner.

"There's an 85 chance, 85 percent chance that you can get away with murder and not be convicted. It has emboldened criminals," said Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

"I'm definitely pro-policeman, meaning taking some of the strict rules and regulations off the police officer, so they can do their job," said Wilson.

"I recognize that people in this city don't feel safe, so we've got to keep working on the strategy that we know is making progress," said Mayor Lightfoot.

The mayor cited a decrease in shootings from last year and a dramatic increase in guns recovered. But violent crime and theft are up from when she took office in 2019.

"How do we continue to allow the mayor to lie about the numbers? We are not down when it comes to before her administration started," said Ja'Mal Green.

"Chicago is in a leadership crisis. Every single problem that we're experiencing, from the escalating crime to individuals leaving our school system in record numbers," said Paul Vallas.

During the wide-ranging 90 minute debate, the candidates offered ideas on how to help struggling small businesses, how to provide resources for migrants without short changing residents, and how to encourage investment in affordable housing.

"We have to make sure that we're not just simply making affordable housing more accessible, but we also have to make sure that we commit to public housing and pathway to home ownership," said Brandon Johnson.

"We have lots where we can build affordably, really affordably, and use that same density bonus money to invest in our neighborhoods that are really seeing no investment whatsoever," said Roderick Sawyer.

And the candidates were asked about the city's growing youth mental health crisis.

"We need to bring professionals, like clinicians, into the school to help deal with the mental health insecurities that our kids have," said Sophia King.

The full debate will re-air on ABC7's main channel Sunday at 10:30 p.m.

You can also watch the full debate below

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