Chicago mayoral debate sees Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson clash on policing, education, taxes, more

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Thursday, March 9, 2023
Vallas, Johnson face off on policing, education, taxes. more in debate
A Chicago mayoral debate saw runoff candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson offer differing visions for policing, education, taxes and more.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's mayoral runoff candidates met on the debate stage Wednesday night, spending an hour answering questions covering policing, education, taxes and more.

Vallas and Johnson both agreed public safety is the city's top problem, impacting neighborhoods, public transportation and downtown business viability, but they offered different solutions.

"You make the type of leadership changes and changes in scheduling and changes in management and personnel that do not cause 1,000 police officers to leave every year," Vallas sad.

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"We're gonna promote, train and hire 200 more detectives so we can actually solve crime in the city of Chicago," said Johnson.

But the night was marked by Johnson's wave of attacks on the issues of abortion access, teaching Black history in schools and property taxes. Several times he accused Vallas of being a Republican.

"After Barack Obama became the first Black president of the United States of America, he switched parties and became a Republican," Johnson said.

Vallas maintained he's a lifelong Democrat and for the most part ignored the attacks, addressing the issue after the debates.

"I didn't want to turn it into a free for all. Plus, you know, this is what Johnson's gonna do," he said.

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Vallas, the former head of Chicago Public Schools, did go after Johnson, who is trailing Vallas in the most recent polls and is a member of the Chicago Teachers Union, over the school shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Brandon was in part responsible for the shutting down of one of the poorest school systems in the country with devastating consequences for 15 consecutive months," Vallas accused.

"A 100-year pandemic was responsible for everything being shut down," Johnson countered.

With Johnson being supported by the CTU and Vallas by the Fraternal Order of Police, both candidates addressed the issue of undue influence if elected in the first debate between the two run-off candidates since last week's election.

"I will no longer be a member of the Chicago Teachers Union. I will no longer pay dues to the Chicago Teachers Union," Johnson said.

"Well first of all I'm not taking money from them," Vallas said of the FOP. "You know I'm not going to be beholden to anyone."