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Education A Top Priority For Chicago Voters Focused On Ending Racial Inequity: Survey

Nearly 90 percent of the aldermanic candidates who responded said they favored ending tax breaks for wealthy corporations.

Students at Cameron Elementary in West Humboldt Park.
Courtesy of Cameron Elementary
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CHICAGO — Voters concerned about racial inequity in Chicago picked education as their top area of concern, according to a survey of more than 2,000 Chicagoans conducted by a coalition of groups.

Voters ranked a suggestion that candidates back policies to assign a librarian and nurse as well as social workers and counselors to every school as the No. 1 way to “best help build a Chicago that works for all of us,” according to the results released Friday at voteequity.org.

The Vote Equity Project includes the Brighton Park Neighborhood CouncilChicago United for EquityGrassroots CollaborativeGeneration All, the Metropolitan Planning Council and the University of Illinois Chicago’s Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement.

The top 30 policy ideas identified by the survey results were used to craft a candidate questionnaire sent to all mayoral and aldermanic candidates, according to a statement from the group. 

Along with 65 aldermanic candidates, seven mayoral candidates responded to the questionnaire: Amara Enyia, LaShawn Ford, Lori Lightfoot, Paul Vallas, Susan Mendoza, Toni Preckwinkle and Robert “Bob” Fioretti.

The survey also found a high-level of support for an ongoing effort to reopen the city-run and city-funded mental health clinics closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011 as well as a call to invest $25 million more in mental health services.

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The questionnaire asked candidates whether they favored ending “tax breaks and subsidies for wealthy corporations like Amazon and private development projects like Lincoln Yards.” 

Amazon announced Thursday it would not build part of its second headquarters in New York, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. JB Pritzker invited Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to give Chicago another look.

Enyia, Fioretti, Ford and Preckwinkle said they agreed with that statement, while Mendoza was the only candidate to indicate that she disagreed. Vallas and Lightfoot did not respond to that statement.

Nearly 90 percent of the aldermanic candidates who responded to the questionnaire said they favored ending tax breaks and subsidies for wealthy corporations.

“We wanted people to imagine what an equitable Chicago could look like,” said Patrick Brosnan, executive director of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, who added that the guide is designed to help voters make informed decisions and hold public officials accountable.

The guide will be distributed across the city, and a Vote Equity Project bus will travel the city promoting voter education activities. The bus’ first stop is a mayoral forum planned for Saturday at the DuSable Museum.

For comprehensive coverage of the 2019 municipal election, check out chi.vote