By: James St. Patrick

In honor of Chicago’s first Black mayor, the late Harold Washington—I decided to pay tribute to “Punch 9 for Harold Washington,” a must-watch documentary for political junkies. It’s an important history lesson that should be revisited to remind Chicagoans to ask vital questions before they cast their vote. 

During 1979-1983, Chicagoans elected its first female mayor, Jane Byrne. After serving one term and leading a tumultuous administration—the voters had the last say. In 1983, history was made yet again, but this time, the first Black mayor was elected, Harold Washington.

Three decades later—Chicagoans elected its second woman and first openly gay mayor—former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot.

One of the million-dollar questions on most Chicagoans’ minds is, ‘Will history repeat itself and find Mayor Lori Lightfoot a one-term mayor as former mayor Jayne Byrne?’

Before registered voters find out the answer to the above question, they will have the opportunity to sort through at least ten or more mayoral candidates. Currently, it’s a race to circulate petitions and raise funds to beat the mayor, who is determined to nail down her second term in office. 

The city’s future is on the line, and more likely, a run-off is predicted to happen after February 28—mathematically, you can bet the house on this taking place.

Question One: JB Pritzker has won a second term as Illinois governor. Although Black folks are not giving him the best rating compared to the Republican candidate, Darren Bailey–we could do worse. Four years later, there is still no Black-owned marijuana retail dispensary open for business in the state, and Canibus advocates are mad. Will Pritzker stay the next four years, or will he run for the White House in 2024  if President Bidens decides not to seek reelection? 

Question Two: How do you address the rising crime in Black and brown communities? And if you ask some residents on the Northwest and Southeast sides, they are not immune to crime either. 

Question Three: Who will lay out the best plan to address crime which is the number one concern amongst most Chicagoans, including the store retailers and businesses north of Roosevelt Rd.? Since the height of the pandemic, commercial real estate has experienced a high vacancy rate, and retail businesses have had a hard time keeping their doors open. 

Question Four: Gun violence. When discussing crime, it holds different variables across specific communities considered higher risk. How do you curtail illegal guns from proliferating in the wrong people’s hands, especially when obtaining a concealed carry card without a strict screening process? It appears every applicant is approved for an Illinois Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) card these days and one step away from packing a gun next to their lunch in their car.

Question Five: Rising property taxes versus a balanced city budget. We’ve seen communities transformed with the injection of TIFF funds, educating residents on the importance of how additional funding can help their community’s growth.  How does the city determine which projects are supported—special pet projects or political insiders?

Question Six: City services.  With the departure of several aldermen not seeking reelection or stepping down early, residents are concerned about the future of their ward. City Councilmen are blaming the direction of the current administration. After the mid-terms in November, Chicago voters must gear up to find out who these candidates are running for the city election. Can you even name who is running for alderman in your ward? 

Question Seven: The feds have been breathing hard down the necks of our public officials, and many are shaken, not sure if they will be the next headline in the media. No one wants to discuss business on the phone, and no one trusts those who do. Will we see more incumbents drop out and not enjoy their recent raises?

Question Eight: The mayoral candidate to watch. Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia recently announced his bid for the mayoral seat a second time. Like Mayor Harold Washington, Garcia will be a sitting Congressman running if he decides to jump into the race. Supporters started collecting signatures weeks ago, hoping he can make history by becoming the first Latino mayor of the third-largest city in the country. But, will he be the person to bring together the division between the Black and brown communities or divide it even more?

Question Nine: With the recent sale of CHA land to the Chicago Fire professional soccer team, creating affordable housing on vacant land is not a priority for the agency. Gentrification is rapid and Black people are leaving for safer suburban communities. Will our elected officials hold CHA accountable for NOT providing affordable housing on land intended for its original use?

This column does not represent the viewpoints and opinions of Bronzeville Life publication, and it is solely the author’s works. This article has been modified from the print publication to reflect current news.