CHICAGO — While Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was presiding over what could be one of her last county meetings as president, Chancelor Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper, was across the building, offering his endorsement of her mayoral bid as the most qualified candidate who will “account for the police for victims of gun crime, victims of economic crime.”
After opening up his press conference with a remembrance of Rekia Boyd, who was fatally shot seven years ago by off-duty Chicago Police Officer Dante Servin, Chance said he decided to join his father, Ken Bennett, in endorsing Preckwinkle after meeting with activists and organizers from the No Cop Academy coalition, Assata’s Daughters, Black Lives Matter and Black Youth Project 100.
“The resounding voice has been that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable or safe going into a city where Lori Lightfoot sits on the fifth floor,” Chance said. “Her past record as a prosecutor has not been in the best interests of young black people in Chicago, hasn’t been entirely truthful, and even her campaign and the image she’s created since the February election has been, like I said, just very untrue.”
Ken Bennett is co-chairing Preckwinkle’s campaign.
Asked whether he had any concerns about Preckwinkle’s ties to the machine or Ald. Ed Burke (14th), he countered that the criminal justice system is a more damaging machine that Lightfoot had contributed to as a prosecutor.
Chance said he’d yet to meet with Preckwinkle, but planned to in the next week.
In the general election, Chance campaign for policy consultant Amara Enyia, contributing $400,000 to her campaign. Enyia garnered 42,000 votes and came in 6th place in the February election. Chance vowed to work to turn out a record number of young voters, but the Chicago Board of Elections’ said the number of millennial voters dropped significantly as compared with the November primaries.
Chance said his father lobbied for him to support Preckwinkle as far back as June, months before Preckwinkle announced her bid, and the two talked daily.
Chance said he has no plans to cut Preckwinkle a big check.
“I don’t have any more money for Chicago politics,” he said with a smile, twice noting that “This shit has just been tiring for everybody.”
Preckwinkle, who recently pulled her television ads but would not respond to questions on whether she could afford more, welcomed the endorsement.
“It’s really important to get validation from a young activist like him,” Preckwinkle said, citing his involvement with police accountability and school funding causes.
Preckwinkle also dodged questions about how much the endorsement might boost her at the polls, noting that Chance “he has a very big social media imprint and that is something that will be very helpful to the campaign.”
Preckwinkle said she was gratified that activists have embraced her campaign.
“I think the work that we’ve done in the county to reduce pretrial detention for non-violent offenders, who previously spent weeks or months in jail because they couldn’t afford a couple hundred dollars or even a couple thousand dollars in cash bond is something that is very appealing to the activists and of course to Chance,” Preckwinkle said, also noting her opposition to the pending construction of a new training academy for police officers and fire fighters as well as her promise to eliminate the Chicago Police Department’s gang database..
Lightfoot said in a statement that she has “great respect for Chance and the community activists and organizers across the city who are fighting for social justice.”
“I share their passion and commitment to pursuing true police accountability because we have not had nearly enough progress to date. That’s why I’ve fought for police reform throughout my career. As mayor, I will take my efforts to the next level by working with stakeholders who’ve been engaging in this fight from the get-go,” she said.
Preckwinkle, the Chicago Teachers Union, and activists have criticized comments Lightfoot made at a recent forum about converting some closed Chicago Public Schools to potential training sites for officers.
Lightfoot tweeted that those comments were “misinterpreted.”
“Nothing will happen on my watch, and certainly not the repurposing of the closed schools that remain on CPS’s ledger, without going into the community and talking to people about how we can turn those schools into their assets,” she said.
Lightfoot also secured the endorsement of downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who defended her experience as an attorney and described her “Rolodex of relationships with talented, accomplished professionals in Chicago and across the country” as a strength. His ward has more than 40,000 registered voters.
Preckwinkle also won endorsements from 11th Ward Ald. Patrick D. Thompson and his uncle, Commissioner John Daley, also the ward committeeman.
“I know Toni will be a great mayor for the city of Chicago,” Daley, Preckwinkle’s unofficial floor leader, said in a statement. He was absent from the board meeting Wednesday because his wife was having surgery. “She has the experience and the track record of being a great leader for her ward as an alderman and for the county as board president.”