All mayoral candidates say they'd tackle recidivism

February 11, 2011

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(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Miguel del Valle, Rahm Emanuel and Bill "Dock" Walls at a debate Wednesday evening.

All the candidates for Chicago mayor promised to do more to help city residents with criminal records get jobs. The statements came during a debate Wednesday evening sponsored by the Chicago Defender newspaper.

Patricia Van Pelt Watkins said she would push legislation banning job applications that ask a person to disclose a criminal conviction.

"I'm not saying you don't do a background check," Watkins said. "You do a background check, but after they've been approved for the job. And if they have something in their record that doesn't impact that job, they should get the job."

Gery Chico said he'd make sure businesses give ex-offenders a chance, especially if those businesses receive city economic development dollars.

"Maybe [my administration would] have a requirement to hire some people from our second chance program," Chico said.

Miguel del Valle said current programs for ex-offenders are too small, and del Valle doubted his opponents' commitment to addressing the recidivism issue.

"I don't think that if certain people here on the stage are elected, that this is going to be on the map, or stay on the map," del Valle said.

All six candidates for mayor were invited and attended the Wednesday debate at the DuSable Museum of African American History. They're expected to meet again Thursday night for a debate sponsored by the Chicago Urban League at Kennedy-King College.