Reporting Lisa Fielding
CHICAGO (WBBM) – It was second to last debate between the four main candidates for Chicago Mayor and the forum was relatively civil and at times jovial.
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Each candidate was asked about pension reform, crime and whether Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weiss should remain in office.
“I think we need a fresh start,” said Rahm Emanuel. “He’s constantly battling with his officers. I think it would be better for morale.
“It’s not about morale, we need more officers,” said Gery Chico.
“He’s done some good things in the last few weeks so I’d be open to revisit the issue,” said Miguel del Valle.
Carol Mosley Braun talked about better transparency in city government. “I think we should put the budget online. Taxpayers need to see where their money is going.”
Everyone agreed that there needs to be pension reform for city employees but many differed on ways to fix the problem.
“It would be unconstitutional to reduce city employee benefits,” said Del Valle.
Gery Chico said it needs to be a shared sacrifice. “Employees may have to contribute more and the city definitely needs to contribute more.”
Emanual agreed, “The city hasn’t made its contributions.” The former White House Chief of Staff said he’d take no pension and require his staff to take a pay cut to balance the budget.
When asked what the candidates though Mayor Richard Daleys’ biggest mistakes were?
“I wouldn’t have shut down Meigs Field,” said del Valle.
“I think he did good things for some parts of the city but left some out,” said Mosley Braun.
“Putting too many eggs in the Olympics basket instead of job creation,” said Emanuel.
The top two vote-getters will advance if no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
“I’m praying for a runoff,” laughed del Valle.
The final debate will be held Thursday night. The election is Feb. 22.
Earlier Monday, Chico drew fire from his mayoral rivals after he received an endorsement from the Chicago Tea Patriots, a group aligned with the Tea Party movement that criticizes President Obama. Chico said he did not seek the group’s endorsement but didn’t outright reject it.
“I’m more concerned with bringing people together to move our city forward,” Chico said in a statement.
That didn’t stop del Valle and Emanuel from piling on.
“The notion that somebody would accept the support of an entity built around one premise – to stop President Obama – I do not accept,” Emanuel said.