IL Latino News covers the social determinants of health and democracy. Collaborations like the coalition of Chicago’s largest Black and Latino-serving organizations to produce the candidate conversation event are integral to the health of democracy.
Chicagoans flocked to the Chicago History Museum on Monday night for a chance to hear from mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas before the April 4 Runoff Election. Chicago’s Black and Brown Future: Conversations with the Mayoral Candidates focused on issues impacting Black and Latino communities including housing, crime, education, economic development, equitable representation, and immigration.
The conversation was moderated by veteran journalists, longtime CBS2 Chicago reporter, Dorothy Tucker and publisher of IL Latino News, Hugo Balta. Tucker is the current president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Balta has served twice as president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
“Events like tonight’s conversation with Chicago mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas gives voters an opportunity to make side-by-side comparisons,” said Balta. “ The health of our democracy depends on an informed citizenry.”
Unlike a traditional debate with candidates going back and forth, interacting with one another, each candidate had a dedicated space in the program to answer predetermined questions. The two did not appear on stage together. Audience members were given green and red cards to express approval or disapproval, by waving the colored sheets of paper in the air as the opponents spoke.
Both candidates were met with applause when introduced to the stage. Johnson went first, followed by a short intermission, and then Vallas.
A recent poll by Northwestern’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy showed that crime was top of mind for many voters, rated as the most important issue for 54 percent of Black voters and 46 percent of Latino voters.
Johnson said he would focus on getting to the root of crime by investing in youth programs and hiring 200 more detectives.
“We’re going to double the amount of young people that we hire, not just for summer positions but year-round positions,” he said.
On crime, Vallas stated that he wants to fulfill current Chicago Police Department vacancies, not expand CPD. He added that he wants to add officers to CTA platforms “because people are afraid to take the CTA,” citing another recent poll by WBEZ.
Both Johnson and Vallas said that they would support the Welcome to IL coalition, vowing to support immigrants and migrants arriving in the city. Governor JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation to speed up the availability of state money and resources to help deal with the busloads of migrants being sent to Chicago from Texas.
There are now two weeks left before a new mayor is elected. Early Voting is open in all 50 Wards. More information about Early Voting can be found on the Chicago Elections website.