Chicago (CBS) — Ald. Ed Burke and the corruption charges against him were on all the Chicago mayoral candidates’ minds at a forum held at the Union League Club Friday.

Federal prosecutors charged Burke with extortion for trying to squeeze business for his law firm out of a fast food restaurant chain that wanted a permit for remodelling.

“It is the Chicago way that holds us back. Decades of corruption in this city, decades,” Garry McCarthy said.

“The mayor, the aldermen, all of them need to be truly investigated,” Willie Wilson said. “You can’t trust these jokers.”

Meantime, Toni Preckwinkle continued to defend her hiring of Burke’s son, Ed Burke, Jr., on her county payroll after a personal request from his powerful father.

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“You have to understand the personnel records we had at the time,” Preckwinkle said. “We did not have access to the sheriff’s personnel records.”

Those records showed Burke, Jr. left the sheriff’s office under the cloud of a sexual harassment investigation. Preckwinkle says people around the city are more concerned about crime, schools and business development than her links with Burke.

“The resume was shared with the Department of Homeland Security, they vetted him and decided to hire him,” Preckwinkle said.

Lori Lightfoot said Preckwinkle’s hiring of Burke, Jr. speaks volumes to her character.

“The machine that she said she was railing against, she has become the embodiment of,” Lightfoot said.

Among the mayoral front runners, Susana Mendoza and Bill Daley did not take part in Friday’s forum.

Both Mendoza and Gery Chico have long-standing political links with Ald. Burke.

Derrick Blakley