The first televised forum in the contentious--and crowded--race for mayor of Chicago aired Thursday night.
Front-runner Toni Preckwinkle was a no-show, but it did provide voters with their first chance to see the candidates tangle over the issues. The 90-minute forum was held at Steinmetz College Prep and touched on crime, education and taxes. It also got heated at times as candidates — criticized each other whether they were on stage or not.
Bill Daley noted every other politician's recent distance from embattled Burke.
“Just about everybody up here is gonna try to say they never heard of Ed Burke,” he said.
Two candidates went on the offensive toward Preckwinkle and Susanna Mendoza.
“You got people like Toni Preckwinkle—of course Susanne (sic) Mendoza run for an office until (they) change their mind (and) run for mayor—at the same time drawing a pay check,” Willie Wilson said.
Gery Chico also pounced on Preckwinkle and Mendoza.
“What I’m seeing right now from people like Toni Preckwinkle and Susanne (sic) Mendoza is raising our taxes,” Chico said. “We are not an ATM machine for lazy government.”
But Mendoza pushed back.
“(My name is) Susanna, with an ‘a,’ it’s not silent and neither am I,” Mendoza responded. “I’m running for mayor because the future of Chicago is at stake and I’m interested in focusing on—not just the four years—but the next generation.”
John Kolzar attempted to stand out as his own brand of unique candidate offering an antidote to Chicago politics as usual.
“If we elect Bill Daley, Susanna Mendoza, Gary Chico or Tony Preckwinkle, we’re going to end up talking about the same issues in the next four years,” Kolzar said.
Fingers were also pointed over crime and whether to keep Eddie Johnson as police superintendent.
“This time make him apply for the job instead of getting the City Council to change the law for one day so I could appoint who I wanted to,” McCarthy said.
Vallas seized an opportunity after McCarthy's response.
“I think it’s pretty cowardly to call for his resignation by the same candidates that failed to criticize Rahm Emanuel for his mismanaging and his degrading of the police department,” Vallas said.
While Lori Lightfoot took another approach.
“One of the most important things we have to do, though, is we have to get a handle on the violence,” Lightfoot said. “Frankly, Gary and I are the only two people in this race that have any experience in local policing.”
The next mayoral candidate forum is set for Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at University of Illinois Chicago.