Chicago Sun-Times

Elected board backed at forum

5 mayoral candidates talk schools in progressiv­e event on West Side


Five mayoral candidates shared similar progressiv­e views on a variety of topics — including education, housing, policing and the economy — at a forum Wednesday evening in West Garfield Park.

Hundreds filed into New Mount Pilgrim M.B. Church for the event co-organized by nearly three dozen grass-roots advocacy and activist groups.

The candidates were asked questions after speakers gave testimonia­ls about each topic.

A mother of two children enrolled in Chicago Public Schools said her husband died two years ago, and since the family’s tragedy, the children’s school recommende­d she look for help at a hospital because there were no mental health clinics in her neighborho­od, she said.

Austin Chamber of Commerce director Amara Enyia said CPS draws school boundaries in ways that “perpetuate segregatio­n.” The schools near minority neighborho­ods, she said, aren’t around supermarke­ts, mental health clinics or other vital resources.

“Only the few who can get into those schools get a quality education,” Enyia said.

Enyia was joined by former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkl­e in voicing support for an elected school board. Lightfoot went so far as to say she would demand the resignatio­n of every member on the current school board.

“I will look for people who reflect the values of this city,” Lightfoot said. “Where we will begin is treating parents as welcome partners.”

Preckwinkl­e said a reinvestme­nt in the public school system would bring improvemen­ts to more than just education in the city.

“[We need] strong neighborho­od public schools — not magnet schools, not selective-enrollment schools, not charter schools — but strong neighborho­od public schools,” Preckwinkl­e said.

Businessma­n Willie Wilson said he would reopen shuttered schools on the city’s South and West Sides, while state Rep. La Shawn Ford touted his teaching background.

On other issues, the candidates agreed the city needed to invest in its neighborho­ods, not only downtown.

“It bothers me so much to live on the West Side and see vacant and abandoned buildings,” Ford said. “We don’t see vacant and abandoned buildings anywhere other than the South and West sides of Chicago.”

All five also said they would do all they could to protect immigrants and limit the power of federal immigratio­n officers within the city. For all the candidates, that included eliminatin­g the city’s gang database.

 ?? NADER ISSA/SUN-TIMES ?? Hundreds turn out for a mayoral forum Wednesday at New Mount Pilgrim MB Church.
NADER ISSA/SUN-TIMES Hundreds turn out for a mayoral forum Wednesday at New Mount Pilgrim MB Church.

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