Lightfoot's soft-on-crime approach comes back to haunt her
As the Chicago mayoral primary election approaches in April, the candidates are looking to defeat incumbent mayor Lori Lightfoot. They have apparently found her Achilles heel: crime.
Chicago Police statistics aren't something Lightfoot can trumpet as a success. During her time in office, crime is up 19 percent in the city. Murders have increased 20 percent since 2018, and shootings are up 19 percent. Motor vehicle thefts saw the largest increase of 114 percent.
While some categories decreased, such as criminal sexual assaults (down 4 percent), it's not enough to improve the city's violent image, especially among its residents.
With eight candidates running to unseat Lightfoot, they have all noticed that public safety is not something Lightfoot can tout, while it is of great concern to citizens.
Lightfoot is aware of her problem. In January, she broke ground on a $170-million public safety center on the city's west side. She said she wanted to make Chicago one of the safest cities in the nation.
"All of us here in city government and beyond are working together every day to make sure that the city of Chicago is the safest big city in the nation," Lightfoot said.
A public safety center won't do much good if her administration continues hampering police efforts. This is a problem that all the candidates (eight Democrats and one independent) share.
Their records and history show that they are more likely to either not act on the crime problem or make it worse by hindering police and supporting policies that will make it easier for criminals to escape prosecution.
However, at least they aren't blaming the victims. During a recent debate, Lightfoot said that one of the reasons for the crime problem in the city is that street vendors accept cash, and their customers use it.
She said, "I heard a lot of rhetoric here, a lot of sound bites, but not a lot of concrete solutions on how we get the job done and make our residents and our workers safe. We're doing it every single day. We have been in Little Village working with those street vendors, understanding what the nature of the crime is, making sure that we're doing things in concert with them to help them, to make sure that their money is secure. Not use money, if at all possible, using other forms of transactions to carry themselves."
So, in her mind, it's not criminals who will rob and assault street vendors who are the problem. It's the small businesspeople and innocent citizens who are using legal tender and harming no one who are the problem.
Although the citizens have plenty of reasons to vote Lightfoot out of office, that comment alone should be enough. It shows that she doesn't realize how to deal with the city's crime problem because she doesn't recognize who the real criminals are.
Even if voters make a choice of someone else to lead the city, will it make a difference? Probably not. It is asking a lot for a city that hasn't had a Republican mayor since 1931. While a Republican mayor wouldn't necessarily turn things around, it does show how tied to the Democrat party the city is. The party policies have been permeating the city government, its operations, and its employees for nearly a century.
Unless the Democrat party were to suddenly become the Tough-on-Crime Party, things aren't likely to change in the city, and the likelihood of that happening is the likelihood of a Republican being elected mayor.
Michael A. Letts is the CEO and founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.
Image: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.