Chicago mayoral debate puts Lightfoot on the spot

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In the city’s competitive mayoral election, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) faced criticism from a number of contenders at their first televised debate on Thursday night, highlighting the difficulties the incumbent would face in her reelection campaign, The Hill reported.

The League of Women Voters of Chicago/Illinois, ABC 7 Chicago, Univision Chicago, and all nine candidates, including Lightfoot, took part in a 90-minute televised debate that covered a variety of topics, including crime and public safety, the opioid crisis, young people’s mental health, and transportation accessibility.

Many of these candidates made digs at the mayor, claiming that she did not cooperate with authorities, was disconnected from the city, and that the city was experiencing a “leadership crisis.”

In the midst of the assaults on the mayor, which brought to light longstanding disagreements that officials have had with Lightfoot’s management style and her handling of crises like the July 2020 demonstrations, candidates didn’t hold back from taking potshots at the other competitors either.

Rep. Jess “Chuy” Garca (D-Ill.), a mayoral opponent, was often singled out by Democratic mayoral candidate and state representative Kam Buckner (D) for criticism for allegedly not doing enough to help migrants entering the city.

“We have to ramp up our permanent supportive housing programs for these people,” Buckner said of migrants coming to Chicago. “And we also have to look at the fact that it takes 150 days for an asylum seeker to get a work permit. The federal government is not doing enough. So, Congressman García, we need you and your colleagues to step up, because this is a problem that falls on the laps of Washington D.C.”

The discussion takes place upwards of a month before the election on February 28. In the event that no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote during the election, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff on April 4.

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