Preckwinkle, Lightfoot face off in televised debate Wednesday evening

CHICAGO — Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot took questions during a forum on WLS-TV Wednesday evening.

The debate aired Wednesday evening, and the audience asked most of the questions during the fast-paced discussion.

Right out of the gate, the two candidates battled over who’s best positioned to reform City Hall.

“My election on Feb. 26 really ignited in people not just the desire for change, but they see the possibility is within reach,” Preckwinkle said.

“My whole career has been about change, and change is action and results, not simply words,” Lightfoot said.

On the topic of city finances and additional money needed to make pension payments, the candidates admitted Chicago needs more revenue. But they were both slim on specific new sources of revenue.

The candidates were given a chance to ask each other a question. Lightfoot asked Preckwinkle what it means to her that the next mayor will be a black woman.

The forum came during a crucial moment during the campaign.

Only 13 days are left before Chicago elects a new mayor. As the candidates crisscross the city, early voting is underway in all 50 wards and already more people have requested Vote By Mail applications than in 2015.

Election officials said they’re optimistic this year’s runoff will top the 38.5 percent turnout reached four years ago.

Since finishing first in the Feb. 26 primary, Lightfoot has maintained strong momentum, raising $1.9 million since the runoff started compared to Preckwinkle’s $1.6 million.

Lightfoot used her cash to increase her television advertising, spending $1.2 million while Preckwinkle made the strategic decision to pull her commercials.

On Wednesday, the Cook County Board President joined hospital workers who marched for pay and benefit increases.

“I’m proud to be here this day to stand with hundreds of hard-working hospital workers who’ve come to call a Code Blue on the hospital system,” she said.

On the campaign trail, Preckwinkle talked up her record of expanding health care in the county.

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