Chicago is at a crossroads.
With a mounting pension crisis, a lack of equitable funding of public schools, the exodus of Chicago’s Black middle class, and the Chicago Police Department’s inability to take Black lives seriously, who leads our city over the next four years matters.
Both Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former federal prosecutor Atty. Lori Lightfoot have already made history. These two formidable women have promised voters that they will be a champion for all Chicagoans, including those locked in the margins on the South and West sides of the city.
Both have records of public service that indicate they will take a no-nonsense, practical approach to governance; and, they both stand strong on what they believe in and won’t be bullied by a suddenly empowered Chicago City Council. Their political platforms are so close that is has been very hard for some of our readers to distinguish between the two.
What is clear is that an African American woman will be at the city’s helm for the first time in its 182-year history—and for that, the Crusader is extremely proud.
After a series of discussions and independent research, we’ve decided to endorse Toni Preckwinkle as the next mayor of Chicago.
Preckwinkle has been public servant for Chicago and Cook County for nearly 28 years.
As Cook County Board President, Preckwinkle reduced Cook County’s jail population by nearly 3,000. Many of these inmates are young Black males. She also supports the Chicago Football Classic, which promotes the hopes and aspirations of students attending HBCU’s. She steered the county’s healthcare system through the state’s budget crisis under former Governor Bruce Rauner.
Lightfoot has zero experience as elected officials. Her message as a reformer may seem refreshing but in reality, Lightfoot is a candidate who seems too good to be true. With support largely from the North Side, the Crusader doubts that she will serve and represent the South and West will equal fervor.
Under her leadership as Cook County Board President, Preckwinkle has made some good decisions and some bad ones, including the soda tax that was repealed nearly a year after it was passed. Politicians, including mayors and presidents all have committed political blunders during their term in office, but Black women leaders can be unfairly judged by a double standard when they are under the public microscope.
After a year of turmoil and corruption in Chicago, the Crusader believes that Preckwinkle has been refined by fire and has the conviction to shake up the status quo and right the ship at City Hall.
Calloway will be a much-needed watchdog for South Shore. Incumbent Leslie Hairston has served the ward for 20 years and has little to show for it. The Jeffrey Plaza and the 71st Street corridor remain an eyesore to the community. Her biggest achievement is the opening of the Sophy Hotel in Hyde Park. But what about the less affluent residents in South Shore? The vacant Dominick’s is finally getting a new tenant, but voters should see that Hairston is more interested in getting re-elected than sparking real change in the 5th Ward. She was largely silent as the Chicago Park District without a public hearing or community input, decided to merge the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses to create a $30 million golf course designed by Tiger Woods. Hairston has done little to nothing to address residents’ concerns. She was absent at a City Council meeting that approved the plans for the $500 million Obama Presidential Library and Center without a Community Benefits Agreement. Now Hairston says she supports a CBA as she fights to keep her job. An underpass at Lake Shore Drive and Marquette Drive remained flooded for four years until a Crusader story forced the Chicago Department of Transportation to repair it.
For his activism, the Crusader believes Calloway is the best candidate to steer South Shore in the right direction.
It’s time for new leadership in the sixth ward. Foster-Bonner is the right person to help revive Chatham and West Englewood. Residents have grown weary of lingering crime in their neighborhood, but the closing of the Target store has added to their growing list of concerns. Incumbent Roderick Sawyer initially picked up where his prominent father left off, but Sawyer in the last several years has grown out of touch with his constituents. He was a no-show at community town hall meetings and protests after Target announced that it was closing a store in his ward.
His opponent, Foster-Bonner is a self-employed accountant who is energetic and approachable. She started a block club to promote community watchdogs. She is also raising funds to support after-school programs
Stephanie D. Coleman is a lifelong resident of the 16th Ward, which includes Englewood, Gage Park, West Englewood and Chicago Lawn. Coleman is the daughter of retired Alderman Shirley A. Coleman, who served four terms on the City Council. Stephanie Coleman returns for a rematch against incumbent Toni Foulkes, who narrowly beat Coleman in a runoff in the 2015 race, taking 51 percent of the vote to Coleman’s 49 percent. A dedicated activist, Coleman is actively involved in youth and young adult issues, which include education, safety, and economic growth. She currently participates in several community service and outreach projects such as the open book literacy program, the Albertina Walker Scholarship Foundation, and Women’s Empowerment Group.
The Crusader values activists who serve their community before they run for office. Jeanette Taylor is one of them. An organizer for the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Taylor is genuine and will restore trust as urban renewal continues to spread in the 20th Ward. Taylor has advocated for change in Chicago Public Schools, where she has served for years on the local school council. Many still remember Taylor as one of a dozen activists who forced the reopening of Dyett High School after staging a 34-day hunger strike in Washington Park in 2016. With concerns of rising rents and displacement from the future Obama Presidential Center and Library, Taylor has led a campaign to establish a community benefits agreement to protect residents in South Shore. City Hall needs public servants like Taylor, who will fight for her constituents while helping end the decades-old rubber stamp practices of the City Council.
A retired zoning code officer, McNeil served as block club president in his neighborhood. He was an active member of Park Manor Neighbors, Chatham-Avalon Business Association, and the 82nd and Prairie Block Club. McNeil served as Democratic Committeeman over the 6th Ward in the Chatham area. In the 21st Ward, he noticed the unequal distribution of services within the ward and how they contribute to the decline in property values. Concerned about the steady rise in crime, he grew alarmed in 2013 when the Board of Education voted to close 50 schools. Six years later, McNeil is running for alderman in a ward that includes Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, Gresham, Chatham and Roseland. His opponent, Howard Brookins Jr., took $10,000 from Mayor Rahm Emanuel weeks before he voted not once, but twice, to approve a $5 million settlement to the estate of Laquan McDonald. He took an additional $20,000 even after the Crusader reported his initial donation in its investigation.
Unbought and un-bossed, it’s time for McNeil to help sweep out City Hall.
The Crusader endorses Conyears-Ervin. She is currently an Illinois state representative, serving the 10th District since 2017. She has a master’s degree in business administration from Roosevelt University and has garnered some key endorsements, from the likes of SEIU Local 73, the Chicago Teachers Union, and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. Conyears-Ervin seeks to replace incumbent Kurt Summers, who unexpectedly announced in 2018 that he would not seek re-election. Summers was Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s ex-chief of staff and served just one term.