Chicago Mayoral Election: Vallas, Johnson spar over Kim Foxx's performance and policing in schools

Ex-Gov. Pat Quinn endorses Vallas; Laquan McDonald relative backs Johnson

ByCraig Wall, Eric Horng, and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Vallas, Johnson spar over Foxx's performance, policing in schools
Former Governor Pat Quinn endorsed Paul Vallas while a Laquan McDonald relative backed Brandon Johnson just weeks before the Chicago Mayoral Election.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Seated a few feet away at the same table, the candidates for Chicago mayor were miles apart on the issues during a Wednesday night debate.

Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas launched attacks at one another.

"He remains a paid employee from the Chicago Teachers Union. At the end of the day, what has he run? What has he managed? He's voted on budgets. He's never managed a budget," Vallas said.

"We all know someone like Paul who has failed over and over again and continues to be allowed to fail up," Johnson said.

They were asked to weigh in on the performance of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

"She has led with an incredible amount of integrity. She's been part of the type of reform that's needed," Johnson said.

But, Vallas voiced his concerns about Foxx.

"She has not been aggressive at keeping dangerous criminals off the street, and the data clearly states it," Vallas said.

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And, the two men differed on whether police are needed in and around schools.

Vallas claimed that "police officers deter active shooters," while Johnson focused on the need to "restore the mistrust that exists within our community."

Meanwhile, a major corruption case and an infamous police shooting were also injected into the Chicago mayoral election on Wednesday.

Former Governor Pat Quinn endorsed Paul Vallas while a Laquan McDonald relative backed Brandon Johnson just weeks before the Chicago Mayoral Election.

Former Governor Pat Quinn, in endorsing Vallas, raised concerns about ComEd and a new city agreement as the corruption trial of some former executives plays out in Federal Court. And, a relative of Laquan McDonald backed Johnson at his Englewood event.

Quinn said Chicago needs a mayor who will stand up for people, and against companies like ComEd, which is seeking a new city contract while some former executives are on trial for corruption.

"We need a mayor of Chicago that's going to tell that big company that they're not going to get away with taking advantage of people and businesses of Chicago," Quinn said.

Johnson, who participated in a women's roundtable, also took his campaign to a church in Englewood that hosts a daycare center, touting his plan for universal childcare.

"And, making sure that we are paying our childcare workers their fair share. They're literally caring for the people of Chicago. We have to take care of the people who take care of people," Johnson said.

Johnson took questions from the audience. Those gathered in the church also heard from Tracey Hunter, McDonald's grandmother, who said tackling crime takes a village, while urging support for Johnson.

SEE ALSO | Paul Vallas says he gave away donation from cop sued in Laquan McDonald shooting

"Like I said, 'Give him a chance.' You give that man a chance, you never know what outcome gonna come out of that," Hunter said.

Earlier, Vallas got endorsements from a number of leaders in the Polish community during a visit with the Polish National Alliance, where he expressed support for restoring Pulaski Day for schools. But, he also talked about the need to restore public safety in neighborhoods and public transportation.

"Obviously, that is my absolute top priority, and I will move quickly in the first 100 days to do those things to make sure that Chicago becomes the safest city in America," Vallas said.

Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged people to vote early.

"I'm counting on you all to talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors about what's at stake you all," Johnson said.

Quinn, who tapped Vallas as his lieutenant governor running mate in 2014, dismissed their loss in that race to Bruce Rauner.

"But clearly, in Chicago, our ticket won resoundingly," Quinn said.

Quinn raised some eyebrows when he endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia instead of Vallas during the nine-candidate race, but he now says Vallas is the candidate for middle class families.

"It's important to have a mayor who is a fighter for consumers and taxpayers who believes in term limits. I think that's very important. Paul signed our petition a couple years ago to have term limits on the mayor," he said.

The candidates will take part in another debate on Wednesday night as they seek to win over the remaking undecided voters, with time until the election quickly dwindling.