With the elections right around the corner, the importance of getting to know the District Council candidates for the ECPS (Empowering Community for Public Safety) ordinance is as important as it has ever been. With that in mind on February 1st, 2023, the Southwest Organizing Project, Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability, TARGET Area, Increase the Peace, La Casa Norte, Teamwork Englewood, Good Kids Mad City-Englewood, and Inner-city Muslim Action Network worked together to create a space for the community to come out and meet the 7th and 8th District candidates. These organizations were able to get over 150 community members and 8 district council candidates to come out for a question and answer session to best determine the motivations, drive, and goals of each of the candidates.
The District Council Candidate Forum began with an introduction and overview of the district council roles and the ECPS ordinance by a member of ONE Northside, Ana Mangahas. The ECPS ordinance created The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, which is a seven-member, city-wide body that shapes CPD policy, establishes public safety goals, and plays a central role in selecting police leadership. The District Councils in each of Chicago's 22 police districts are three elected residents who will work to ensure public safety at the local level.
Along with giving a brief history of ECPS, Ana also shared her own experience and fears about having dealt with the police and the effect it had on her and her family. The next steps focused on the questions posed by moderators and community members. Some of these questions even tackled the tragic shooting of Laquan McDonald and the most recent hard-hitting incident that shook many people to their core, the murder of Tyre Nichols. Questions were asked about what sort of action candidates would take to create more restorative justice practices and if some candidates had been backed by the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police).
This forum was a crucial step in preparing for election day, but the biggest step has yet to be taken, which is the vote itself on February 28th. The election is fast approaching, so the chairs of the meeting were sure to ask that everyone in attendance do all that they can to let everyone they know about the upcoming election and to get out and vote when the time comes.
Although there are more candidates on the ballot, the candidates who appeared at the forum are listed below:
7th District Candidates: Linda Austin, Teresa Chandler, Krystal Peters, Joseph Williams, Cherli Montgomery, Dion McGill, Verna Swan
8th District Candidates: Mark Hamberlin