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Chicago Mayoral Election: Health Care Update | February 18, 2023

The 2023 Chicago Municipal Election is coming soon. Early Voting in all 50 Wards of Chicago began Monday, February 13 and runs through February 28, 2023 (Election Day).


Nine candidates are running for mayor of Chicago, Illinois, in the February 28, 2023, general election and if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election will take place on April 4, 2023. So what are their views and ideas to improve health and improve socioeconomic status in Chicago? HC3 researched news and updates from each candidate to better understand how their platforms intersect with our three pillars - Addressing Health and Social Inequities, Economic Development and System Transformation.

 

KAM BUCKNER

State Rep. Kam Buckner, whose district stretches from the Gold Coast to the Southeast Side, is a native South Sider who grew up in Washington Heights and Roseland.


His campaign is focused on instilling trust in city government, improving Chicago Public Schools and reducing violent crime. Buckner said his balanced approach to public safety involves “vastly increasing” the city’s gun violence prevention budget, investing in anti-violence organizations, helping push through gun reform and “a robust mental health responder model.” Buckner has released a public safety plan that vows to hire more officers, start an “internet crime” unit and implement the proposed Anjanette Young ordinance regarding wrongful police raids. 


In campaign speeches, Bucker has advocated for improving transparency at the Chicago Housing Authority and expanding the use of rent-subsidy vouchers, although he has not discussed funding.


Buckner jumped into the mayor’s race last May and unveiled a sweeping education platform last fall outside a vacant elementary school in Garfield Park. Standing alongside former school board member Dwayne Truss, Buckner promised to expand universal preschool to 3-year-olds, hire at least one nurse, one librarian, and one social worker per school, and do an external audit of CPS special education practices to improve services.


He pushed for an elected CPS board while a lawmaker and has said there is a need to “press the reset button” between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union, which has clashed with Mayor Lori Lightfoot. A close ally of the union, he is the son and brother of CTU members. He said at his campaign rally that he would personally negotiate the next CTU contract and would not send a “proxy” in his place.


JESUS 'CHUY' GARCIA

Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, who represents Illinois’ 4th district in Washington, D.C., is a longtime political veteran who ran for mayor in 2015 and has emphasized his progressive bonafides since entering the 2023 race.


Chuy Garcia, like other candidates, cited Lightfoot’s broken promises to reopen mental health clinics, resurrect the Department of Environment and raise the real estate transfer tax on high-end home sales to create a dedicated source of funding to reduce homelessness and ease Chicago’s affordable housing crisis.


During the 2015 mayoral campaign, his failure to articulate a plan to solve Chicago’s pension crisis may well have cost him the runoff election. Some ideas he has suggested include convening a “Chicago Council of Corporate and Community Leaders” to catalyze more economic development downtown, launching a “Chicago Green Bank” to focus federal and local funds into environmentally friendly investments, and incentivizing businesses to hire people who were recently released from incarceration.


Garcia said he’s changed since his last mayoral campaign. He has a far better understanding of budget and finance after deliberately choosing congressional committees focused on business and finance. García has pitched an emergency property tax relief program funded through taxpayer grants. He also proposed finding money in Chicago’s budget to hand out means-tested grants for more than 21,500 property owners struggling with high taxes. The first set of grants would be a one-time $250 check to homeowners making no more than $43,800 as individuals and $66,700 as families. The households’ tax bills must be at least $1,000. García has advocated for tapping into tax-increment financing and the federal infrastructure bill to create housing, although he hasn’t provided a written plan.


García has called for the firing of Police Supt. David Brown and the speedy implementation of a consent decree that was signed in 2017, although Lightfoot has accused him of copying her plan.


García fought for the construction of a school on the Southwest Side, which was opposed by then schools CEO Paul Vallas. García has blasted Vallas’ opposition and supports an elected school board.


JA'MAL GREEN The youngest candidate in the field, Ja’Mal Green, is a fixture as an activist who has led protests against police in the McDonald case and other issues of police misconduct.


Ja'Mal Green has been part of high-profile protests, including against Chase Bank’s lending practices, which prompted the bank to announce it would increase lending to Black and Latino Chicagoans by $600 million. Green was arrested in 2016 protesting after police shot and killed Laquan McDonald.


Green has focused his candidacy around crime prevention, banning the boot and “universal 3K.” Green has said curbing violent crime is about focusing on holistic solutions, and he has promised to institute a fully staffed, unarmed social workforce responding to 911 calls and a youth intervention department.


In forums, Green has described the CTA as a “homeless shelter” and a “mental health clinic.” He would declare a state of emergency to free up money to put social workers on CTA trains and platforms.


Green champions universal preschool for 3-year-olds — a promise also outlined in a sweeping $5 billion public safety plan he released. That plan also calls for creating 10,000 apprenticeships for Chicagoans ages 13 to 25. He has championed “universal 3K,” saying he would institute universal free education for children, starting from age 3, although he has not said how he would fund it.


He has proposed a public “Bank of Chicago” that would prioritize lending for affordable housing, and he will use the bank to control rent prices at income-based developments.



BRANDON JOHNSON

County Commissioner Brandon Johnson is a Chicago Teachers Union organizer and middle school teacher who has pushed for more investment into health care, restorative justice and job creation.The youngest candidate in the field, Ja’Mal Green, is a fixture as an activist who has led protests against police in the McDonald case and other issues of police misconduct.


Johnson has vowed to eliminate the gang database and focus public safety efforts on addressing the “root causes” of crime. He has also promised a trauma prevention program that offers 24-hour access to health care professionals, although its funding remains unclear.


With polls showing violent crime foremost on the minds of Chicago voters, Johnson vowed to launch a year-round, “robust” youth hiring program to “give our young people hope” and steer them away from the fast money lure of violent street gangs. He also promised to deliver a CTA system where students and seniors ride free.


Johnson has unveiled a plan that he said would train 200 new police detectives from the existing rank and file, double summer employment opportunities for at-risk youth to more than 60,000 jobs and expand support for victims of crime. Johnson said that those programs and increased support for homeless people and those with addictions would help curb crime.


Johnson has proposed a real estate transfer tax on multi-million dollar property sales to help fund affordable housing initiatives and promised developments on the South and West sides.


Johnson also pledged to deliver “fully funded and resourced” public schools and improve Chicago’s homicide clearance rate by ramping up programs that would allow mental health professionals to respond to the nonviolent situations that make up more than half of all 911 calls.


According to his campaign website, he promises to expand “Sustainable Community Schools” from prekindergarten to city colleges while also providing academic, health and social support beyond the school day.


Johnson has also promised to get Pace and Metra to expand in underserved areas of the city.

SOPHIA KING

Ald. Sophia King (4th) has represented Kenwood, Oakland and parts of Bronzeville since 2016, and she was a leading proponent of the Empower Communities for Public Safety community police oversight ordinance.


As an alderperson representing the 4th ward, Sophia King backed an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 and the redevelopment of the vacant Reese Hospital site. King has also served as vice president of Planned Parenthood Chicago and started a nonprofit, Harriet’s Daughters, to increase African-American employment opportunities.


King has criticized the Lightfoot administration for its failure to use “opportunity zones” to incentivize affordable housing in low-income areas. She has also advocated for using landmark districting to keep seniors in their homes.


King has called for hiring additional police and bringing in 1,000 retired officers to expand reserves. In forums, she has said she wants to “escalate” alternative policing responses and “uplift police” while also holding them accountable.


King says doesn’t believe in decreasing the Chicago police budget. She believes that good policing works, and in her public safety plan, that means redirecting resources to community policing, alternative response and violence intervention programs, as well as putting more cops in neighborhoods and “embracing” surveillance technology.


King has not yet released an education plan, but has outlined a public safety strategy on her campaign website that promises to invest more in schools in communities experiencing the most gun violence and vows to “enlist both public and private sector employers to hire more high school students, disconnected youth, young adults, and formerly incarcerated citizens.”


LORI LIGHTFOOT

Incumbent Lori Lightfoot ran an outsider’s campaign in 2019 focused on rooting out corruption in City Hall. Her 2023 campaign has centered around “finishing what she started,” as she has repeated in public statements.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has touted her hiring of 900 police officers and a decline in shootings, homicides and carjackings since 2021, although other crime numbers have risen. She has said she would continue to hire more officers.


Under Lightfoot, the city’s housing department has vowed to put $1 billion into affordable housing. But the Chicago Housing Authority, led by mayoral appointees, has come under fire for poor building management and a deal to sell land to the Chicago Fire soccer team.


Lightfoot has demanded additional funding for CPS from the state. She has backed off her support for an elected school board. Last summer, Lightfoot unveiled a comprehensive blueprint for Chicago that included hubs for Lifelong Learning. It proposed an Office of Learning, which would transform shuttered school buildings into learning hubs in every neighborhood. The plan aims to increase education resources and coordinate existing programs across Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Public Library, and other education-focused agencies and organizations.



RODERICK SAWYER

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) — who has represented parts of Chatham, Englewood and West Englewood since 2011 — helped found the City Council Progressive Reform Caucus.


Roderick Sawyer has advocated for getting rid of the gang database and improving communication systems across city departments. He has also advocated for firing Brown and increasing hiring.


He has pushed to incentivize the redevelopment of vacant lots through a low-cost or no-loan program and the creation of affordable prefabricated container homes.


A longtime advocate for school choice, Vallas has also called for a forensic audit of CPS to add social workers and school counselors and trim down the central office. He also wants to introduce work-study to high schools and keep schools open for dinner on weekends and holidays.


To fill 1,600 police vacancies and reverse a mass exodus of officers, Sawyer said he wants to offer hiring incentives, retention bonuses, and for Chicago cops to focus on violent crime.


PAUL VALLAS

A former CPS CEO, Paul Vallas has spent most of his career working in education, although he has centered public safety and crime reduction in his current mayoral campaign.


Vallas has stated that Chicago is on the verge of a “financial disaster” after federal stimulus funding runs out. He said he would cancel many Lightfoot giveaways, including gas and Ventra cards, bicycles, surveillance cameras, motion-detector systems and a guaranteed minimum income pilot program. He would also cancel an automatic escalator that locks in annual property tax increases at the rate of inflation. And Vallas has called for eliminating private security on the CTA and using the money to pay for more police.


To fill 1,600 police vacancies and reverse the mass exodus of officers, he wants to fire Chicago Police Supt. David Brown and Brown’s entire senior leadership team; restore “beat integrity” and pro-active policing; and reverse policies on foot and vehicular chases that, he claims, have tied officers’ hands.


With CPS enrollment down 25,000 students in the last two years, Vallas said he wants to mandate that CPS spend a healthy chunk of its annual share of a tax increment financing surplus on a school voucher program. He also wants to lengthen the school day and school year, “radically decentralize” the school bureaucracy to push decision-making down to the local level and bankroll a dramatic increase in paid work-study programs by phasing out what he called “irrelevant electives.”


WILLIE WILSON

A wealthy Chicago businessman and philanthropist who owns McDonald’s franchises and a medical supply company, Wilson has long been a fixture in local and national political races.


Wilson's campaign focuses on rebuilding from the pandemic through “educational grants, trade and business recovery,” according to his campaign website. 


Wilson has said in forums and debates that the city needs to “take the handcuffs” off police and hunt down criminals “like a rabbit.” He has also advocated for bailing non-violent offenders out of jail on the holidays. 


He has called for deploying armed police officers on the CTA, bringing back conductors, booting people sleeping on the trains and lowering fare prices.


Wilson has said he would try to keep people in their homes by paying their property tax bills, but he hasn’t said how. He has advocated for supporting people experiencing homelessness through church programs


Wilson told the Chicago Crusader last fall that, if elected mayor, he wants to work with state legislators to bring back vocational education to high schools, churches, and Illinois prisons. He also wants to “establish a trade school at CTA bus terminals,” according to the publication.


 

HC3 is a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse a specific candidate or agenda.

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