Paul Vallas, former CPS CEO, announces run for Chicago mayor

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Another familiar name is jumping into the race for Chicago mayor.

Paul Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, who was also a candidate for mayor in 2019, formally announced Wednesday morning that he is running again.

Vallas spoke one-on-one with ABC7 Political Reporter Craig Wall about what he thinks needs to change and how he would address violent crime.

Paul Vallas is ready to get off of the couch and test the political waters once again. Crime, he said, is the city's biggest concern.

"The city's in crisis and I believe I have the skills and the experience and the courage to do what needs to be done to get the city back on track," Vallas said.

Vallas, highly critical of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the police department's strategy to combat violence.

SEE ALSO | Chicago mayoral candidate State Rep. Kam Buckner lays out plan to deal with city violence

"I would replace the entire police senior command, beginning with Brown and First Deputy Carter, and I would promote people from within who have the reputation and who would have the support of the rank and file police officers," Vallas said.

Vallas said police have gotten away from community policing and that needs to change.

"We have some of the most violent districts in the city that do not have all of their police beats covered day to day," Vallas said. "She's got the police department chasing these positive community interactions as opposed to being proactive."

Vallas was the CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001. He later helped turn around school districts in Philadelphia and New Orleans.

He said in order to make schools safe, in the wake of what happened in Texas, Chicago needs to put police officers back in schools.

"The mayor caving into pressure from the teachers union allowing local school councils at particularly at the high school level to decide whether or not they would have, you know, Chicago police at the doors to deter active shooters," Vallas said. "I think that has been absolutely irresponsible."

Vallas was one of 14 candidates who ran for mayor in 2019. He finished ninth with 5 1/2% of the vote. This time he expects to do better.

"Our poll tells us three things: first of all that the mayor's very unpopular, and that's number one," Vallas said. "And number two ,that there's a clear path for me to at least get into the runoff and if I get into the runoff I will win."

Vallas joins Alderman Ray Lopez, State Representative Kam Buckner and businessman Willie Wilson in the race.

Although Mayor Lightfoot said she will announce her re-election plans soon, Alderman Scott Waguespack, speaking on behalf of Lightfoot's campaign, released a statement saying: "Chicago doesn't want his failed experiments that closed schools, hurt already struggling neighborhoods and ignored police misconduct that cost the City millions. He hasn't been taken seriously by voters because his outdated and destructive ideas would only make the most challenging issues facing the city worse."
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