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ABC7 Chicago Mayoral Debate 2023: Lori Lightfoot fields attacks from Jamal Green, Kam Buckner, Willie Wilson, Jesus Chuy Garcia

CHICAGO (WLS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Gage Park on Friday morning after fielding a number of attacks from her mayoral rivals in a debate on ABC7.

“We know that police are not the only solution. We have to get to the root causes,” said candidate Sophia King.

Public safety and crime took center stage.

“I’m calling for what works full investment in youth employment there’s a direct correlation between youth employment and violence reduction,” said candidate Brandon Johnson.

Candidate Paul Vallas also weighed in.

“What we need to do is return to community policing strategies that has beat cops on every beat,” Vallas said.

The mayor acknowledged that people in the city don’t feel safe, but the incumbent said Chicago is making progress by taking guns off the street and hiring more police officers.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re holding ourselves accountable, and we’ve got to listen to the people in neighborhoods who are closest to the challenges because they’re closest to the solution,” Lightfoot said.

The 90-minute debate touching on a variety of other important issues, including the economy.

“I run businesses. I understand. This administration doesn’t have a clue, in my opinion,” said candidate Willie Wilson.

The need to make public transit more accessible was also discussed.

“We have to talk about equity. Equity. We are still talking about a quarter of the city that does not have adequate rail service,” said candidate Roderick Sawyer.

Candidates additionally weighed in on the need to keep and attract businesses.

“Because of Chicago’s violence problem and crime, many businesses are going to other cities across the South. We can stop the bleeding by making Chicago a safer city,” said candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

They were also asked to address how they would deal with the continuing opioid crisis.

“We’ve got to stop treating drugs like a criminal issue when it’s really a public health issue,” said candidate Ja’Mal Green.

Candidates were also questioned about whether raising to raise revenue is the right move taxes.

“The answer is not more taxes,” said candidate Kam Buckner. “It’s more Chicagoans. We have to grow, grow, grow.”

Toward the end of the debate, all hopefuls were pressed on what they’d be willing to do to keep the Bears in Chicago.

“I think the Arlington deal is too profitable. We blew it. We had an opportunity to negotiate with them. We didn’t. You can’t insult them and bring them back to the negotiating table,” Vallas said.

Still, Lightfoot said, “we’re not done yet.”

“We’re not letting the Bears go. We’re going to fight, fight, fight to keep them at soldier field,” Lightfoot said.

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