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Crime Plays Kingmaker in Chicago Election

Crime has proven to be the deciding factor in the highly contested Chicago election after a former Obama official endorsed Paul Vallas for mayor due to his anti-crime platform. Arne Duncan, who served as the Secretary of Education under President Obama, wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune and praised Vallas for his pro-police reform and tough-on-crime platform. Duncan wrote that many communities around the city are ‘absent real justice’ and praised Vallas for dedicating himself to tackling rational police reform. In case you missed it — Chicago stole national headlines when the notorious Lori Lightfoot was eliminated in the first round of voting, which led to a runoff between Paul Vallas and progressive candidate Brandon Johnson. Crime has been one of the most contentious topics on the debate stage in the windy city, and Lightfoot’s demise is widely attributed to her criminal negligence regarding police reform.

FOX NEWS: Former Obama cabinet member endorses pro-police candidate: ‘Best hope for a safer Chicago’

By Lindsay Kornick; March 27, 2023

Arne Duncan, who served as the Secretary of Education under President Obama, wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune on Friday that supported Paul Vallas for Chicago mayor because of his pro-police stance.

While Duncan complimented progressive candidate Brandon Johnson for his campaign priorities, he ultimately sided with Vallas for his focus on law enforcement.

“I salute Johnson’s courage for running. I agree with his broad commitment to ‘invest in people.’ If he wins, I am 100% committed to helping him succeed. We all have to unite behind the next mayor no matter who wins on April 4,” Duncan wrote. “But, given the desperate need to reform CPD, tell police the truth and hold them accountable, Vallas is our best hope for a safer Chicago.”

He continued, “Vallas comes from a family of police and, as an unpaid adviser to the FOP and the union representing police sergeants, he negotiated meaningful reforms in both contracts. He also has not taken campaign contributions from them.”

Vallas and Johnson became the official candidates for Chicago’s next mayor on Feb. 28 after being the top two front-runners in the original election. Both candidates defeated incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign which ended her one-term tenure. They will face off against each other again in the April 4 runoff election.

Vallas, who maintained a lead against Johnson in the first election, ran a campaign focused on crime, citing the unprecedented rise in criminal activity under Lightfoot. Duncan agreed that crime should be a major issue regarding the next Chicago mayor.

“Worst of all, too many violent crimes never get solved. In high-crime neighborhoods, arrest rates for nonfatal shootings and even homicides are so low that people feel they have to take matters in their own hands. Absent real justice, you get street justice,” Duncan wrote. “That’s why Chicago needs a mayor who can tell CPD and its union the hard truth. We need CPD to take responsibility for its long and troubled history of abuse. We need to deploy police where and when crime is happening — instead of where and when they choose to work. We need to recruit good police, not just more police.” 

Vallas was also later endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, a nationwide organization representing law enforcement officers.

Prior to the Chicago election, Duncan hinted that he himself could run against Lightfoot in Jan. 2022. However, he quickly clarified that he was not thinking about it at the moment.

“I’m not running for anything right now,” Duncan said. “But I am deeply concerned about where we are as a city. Nobody feels like we’re in a good place. … Our city’s in a really tough spot. I’ve lived here all my life. I love this city. As I talk to folks, they’re probably more concerned now than at any time that I can remember.”

Regardless of who eventually wins the mayoral race, Duncan commended the candidates for looking to take on the “daunting” challenge of reform the police force.

“We need leadership to create a department that is sincerely committed to real partnerships with the community instead of just lip service. And we need to do all of these things while rebuilding morale in a department where retirements and suicides have both spiked. It’s a daunting challenge,” Duncan wrote.

Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool

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