Toni Preckwinkle's new ad attacks Lori Lightfoot over 2004 fatal fire

Craig Wall Image
Friday, March 29, 2019
Chicago Mayor Race: Toni Preckwinkle's new ad attacks Lori Lightfoot over 2004 fatal fire
Toni Preckwinkle's new ad attacks Lori Lightfoot's actions after a 2004 fatal fire on the West Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago mayoral candidates Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle faced off again Wednesday in a televised debate on CBS.

The debate fell on the eve of the launch of Preckwinkle's first TV commercial in more than a week, which attacks her opponent over a fatal fire in 2004.

Preckwinkle's ad goes after Lightfoot because she was the chief of staff at the Office of Emergency Management and Communication when the fatal fire happened.

With dramatic music playing in the background, the Preckwinkle ad shows the fire on Chicago's West Side that killed three children in the Funches family and another boy.

"A tragic fire, made worse when the 911 call center run by Lori Lightfoot, allegedly botched the response," the announcer says at the start of the ad.

A judge had ordered Lightfoot to preserve 911 tapes after questions were raised about how the 911 calls were handled, but some of the tapes were destroyed.

"The notion that you are going to try to score political points in a tragedy where four young children die is really, I think, a new all-time low," Lightfoot said.

Preckwinkle responded that she saw it as a question of character and ability to lead.

"How do you respond when bad things happen?" she said.

Lightfoot took aim at Preckwinkle when her opponent asked what she regrets most about her professional career.

"I have to explain to my daughter what it means when adults lie. I have to explain to my daughter what it means when adults are bullies," Lightfoot said.

Preckwinkle found Lightfoot's comments hypocritical.

"This is a person who is complaining now about the tenor of the campaign when in the first debate called me a liar," she said.

The candidates were united, however, in their calls for transparency regarding the Jussie Smollett case.

"I think in this instance the judge needs to unseal the records so that the public has an opportunity to see what really transpired," Preckwinkle said.

Lightfoot questioned the optics of the situation.

"The optics look like if you're rich and famous you get one kind of justice and if you're everybody else it's entirely different," she said.

Also Wednesday, Lightfoot picked up two key business endorsements from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Crain's Chicago Business.