CHICAGO — After participating in dozens of forums and debates, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle faced off for the final time on television Wednesday night, hoping to make the most of their last hour of free TV time.
The face-off kicked off with a conversation about the big news of the day — Jussie Smollett charges dropped.
“The concern is the optics. The optics say if you’re rich and famous, you got one kind of justice and if you’re everybody else, it’s something entirely different,” Lightfoot said.
“The crucial issue here is transparency and accountability. I’m not a lawyer and I’m not the State’s Attorney but from a public’s perception the important issue is we need to know as much about what happened and why,” Preckwinkle said.
Lightfoot headed into the debate after receiving an endorsement from Crain's in Chicago, effectively earning a clean sweep of the Chicago papers. And while Lightfoot is also leading in the polls, the campaign isn't taken anything for granted. Lightfoot visited the Safer Foundation Wednesday to roll out her plan to help people with arrests and conviction records find jobs and housing.
"In Chicago we disproportionally arrest, punish and incarcerate poor people of color, and each year over 11,000 people return to Chicago upon their release from prison," Lightfoot said.
Part of Lightfoot's proposed fix is a new Office of Returning Citizens Affairs, and a city ordinance that prohibits landlords from banning renting based on criminal records. For her, the issue is personal.
"My brother who’s closest in age to me, and who I was closest to growing up, spent much of his adult life in prison," Lightfoot said. "He’s now a man in his early 60s with a high school degree; Very little in the way of legitimate job skills and he struggles every single day."
The debate was the only thing listed on Toni Preckwinkle’s public campaign schedule for Wednesday.
After previously pulling her TV commercials, Preckwinkle returned to air with a TV ad criticizing Lightfoot.
After the debate, Preckwinkle drove home the ad’s message.
“This is a question of character and ability to lead how do you respond when bad things happen?” she said.
Lightfoot called the attack an all-time low.
“It’s an act of desperation. She has run out of money. She has no vision. She only talks about her resume,” Lightfoot said.
Preckwinkle also has ads set to run through Election Day. A robocall by Chance the Rapper is also making the rounds, hoping to increase her base of support by Election Day.
Election Day is on April 2.