On February 8, IEA Region 67 sponsored a forum for Chicago mayoral candidates. Collectively, the group chose to endorse the candidacy of Lori Lightfoot. Ms. Lightfoot spoke passionately - and personally - about the transformative possibilities of higher education and communicated strongly-held positions on each of the categories of policy that were discussed.
Summary of Lori Lightfoot's statements on issues specific to City Colleges:
- Ms. Lightfoot recognized that program consolidations through Reinvention have severely damaged enrollment at City Colleges, and that forcing our students to travel great distances across the city to complete their degrees simply does not make sense.
- Ms. Lightfoot was also critical of the current mayor's approach to contract negotiations and stated that expired contracts fuel instability. She emphasized the need to build relationships before bargaining to encourage settlement of contracts before they expire.
- On the topic of free (community) college tuition, Ms. Lightfoot spoke of the need for equity and opportunity, but qualified this by stating that not every student needs to have their tuition subsidized, depending on a student’s need. She would create a pool of funds for those who are most in need and seek ways to make college more affordable.
- Finally, Ms. Lightfoot was generally supportive of the creation of an elected Board of Trustees for Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges, but offered a caveat about the ways in which big money can undermine the principle behind elections.
- On public safety: Public safety cannot be a commodity that only the wealthy can afford.
- On TIF (Tax Increment Financing): Good concept, bad implementation. These funds should be used in communities and neighborhoods that need them; not downtown development and at Navy Pier.
- On pensions: Pension promises must be kept, but tax dollars are precious. She would appoint a risk manager to oversee the city budget and create a board of advisors for the pension fund.
Though the group was highly impressed with all of the candidates who spoke, there was a consensus around Ms. Lightfoot. Susana Mendoza and Toni Preckwinkle also attended and their statements and policy positions were also well-received. Bill Daley was invited, but was unable to attend. Amara Enyia was also invited, but her campaign did not respond to our invitation.
Based on the results of the February 26 election, Region 67 presidents may reconvene to endorse a run-off candidate. The group also chose to dual-endorse Marianne Lalonde and Erika Wozniak Francis for Alderman of the 46th Ward.
*IEA Region 67 consists of City Colleges Contingent Labor Organizing Committee, Morton Adjunct Faculty Association, Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization, United Staff of Columbia College, Triton Adjunct Faculty Association, and St. Xavier University. The presidents of these unions were responsible for voting to support Ms. Lightfoot.