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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her wife, Amy Eshleman, greet supporters as Lightfoot prepares to file reelection nomination petitions for the 2023 Municipal Election at the Chicago Board of Elections Super Site at 191 N. Clark St. in the Loop, Monday morning, Nov. 28, 2022.

Ashlee Rezin

The Rundown: The biggest issues in the mayoral race

Good afternoon! Miles Morales is back and heading into the Spider-Verse, which is great news on a day when it seems like the sun will never return on this dreary December day. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. More than 70% of voters ranked crime and public safety as the most important issues facing Chicago, a poll finds

A vast majority of Chicago voters said crime and public safety were among their top two concerns, according to a poll obtained by WTTW News.

The poll was conducted by Impact Research on behalf of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which has endorsed U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García in the mayoral race. Impact Research, based in Washington, D.C., includes President Joe Biden among its clients.

The poll of 700 likely Chicago voters also found García is the frontrunner, ahead of Mayor Lori Lightfoot by seven percentage points in the first round of voting in February, reports WTTW.

When it comes to Lightfoot, 68% of voters rated her job as mayor negatively.

And Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who is endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, is mostly unknown to voters, with more than 70% saying they do not have an opinion of him. [WTTW News]

In addition to crime and public safety, other issues on the minds of voters included affordable housing and homelessness (24%), schools and education (22%), inflation and rising costs (19%) and taxes (17%), according to the poll. [Capitol Fax]

2. The SAFE-T Act faces its next test in court

After being in the spotlight during this year’s midterm elections, Illinois’ sweeping criminal justice reform law is now being challenged in court, reports my colleague Jon Seidel at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Opponents argue the law, which ends cash bail on Jan. 1, violates the state’s constitution.

“The Illinois Constitution interprets bail, at its core, to include a monetary amount that, though it may take different forms, cannot be abolished altogether without running afoul of the Constitution,” wrote lawyers for the plaintiffs in a brief.

Lawyers for the state say that is a misinterpretation of the constitution. And supporters of the SAFE-T Act point out people are currently let out of jail on their own recognizance. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Chicago Public Schools underwent a technology revolution during the pandemic. But it still doesn’t have a cohesive plan.

The nation’s now fourth-largest school district has spent more than $308 million on computers and other technology since 2020, largely thanks to federal pandemic relief funds.

But Chicago Public Schools “does not have a clear, detailed plan for using the new devices to improve instruction or a reliable system to track what technology campuses have and how they use it,” according to a joint report from WBEZ and Chalkbeat Chicago.

Here’s another kicker: “After months of questioning by Chalkbeat and WBEZ and several inaccurate estimates, officials said last week that they bought nearly 311,000 laptops and tablets. More than 41,000 of the devices are sitting in a warehouse or yet to be shipped by a manufacturer, according to CPS.” [WBEZ]

4. Inflation finally appears to be easing

In another sign the U.S. may be past the peak of inflation, rising prices sharply cooled off last month, an optimistic sign for millions of Americans who have seen their bank accounts squeezed over the last year.

Inflation rose 7.1% in November compared to a year ago, according to federal figures released today.

“That was down sharply from 7.7% in October and a recent peak of 9.1% in June. It was the fifth straight decline,” reports the Associated Press.

That’s encouraging news for the Federal Reserve, which is hoping to tamp down inflation by raising interest rates that make borrowing money more expensive.

“All told, the latest figures provided the strongest evidence to date that inflation in the United States is steadily slowing from the price acceleration that first struck about 18 months ago and reached a four-decade high earlier this year,” the AP reports. [AP]

5. Biden signs a bill protecting same-sex and interracial marriages

President Joe Biden today signed into law a bipartisan bill enshrining same-sex and interracial marriages into federal law.

The Respect for Marriage Act does not outright legalize same-sex marriages. Instead, it recognizes those marriages across state lines. Momentum for the bill grew following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

As NPR reports, the new law comes at a time when support for marriage rights has grown.

“In 2004, just 42% of Americans said they were in support of same-sex marriage, according to Gallup. Today, it’s 68%, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll to be released Thursday,” NPR reports. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Survivors of gun violence urged Illinois lawmakers to ban assault weapons. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Delaying access to Chicago police radio calls threatens public safety, says a coalition of newsrooms. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • A plan to expand Chicago’s Red Line advances in the City Council. [WBEZ]
  • I’ve got to head to Pilsen to check out this holiday display. [Block Club Chicago]

Oh, and one more thing …

This year was a big one for Chicago at the movie theater, as several films with connections to the city generated a lot of buzz, reports WBEZ contributor Isabella DeLeo.

Among them is Nope, which stars Chicago-native Brandon Perea. And there’s Punch 9 for Harold Washington, a documentary on the rise of Chicago’s first Black mayor.

“It’s a really fascinating portrait of a man, but also the time. A lot of what was going on when Harold Washington was running for mayor is the same as it ever was,” said Rebecca Fons, the director of programming at the Gene Siskel Film Center. “It really represents a lot of the politics that we’re dealing with now, and race relations in the city and the segregation of the city.”

DeLeo talked to Chicago filmmakers, programmers and film executives to compile a list of movies that are worth your time. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

It feels like the holidays are speeding toward us. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? (If you’re looking for ideas, WBEZ created this guide to nontraditional holiday things to do this year.)

Gary McDowell writes:

“This year will mark my 20th ‘Mulled Pies and Minced Wine’ Party, which I organize every year to have guests around to drink mulled wine and eat mince pies (a UK delicacy filled with ‘mincemeat,’ which, confusingly for Americans, doesn’t have any meat).

“I first organized this as a first-year in college for my friends; we were thrown out of my room by the staff because of noise complaints, so it went well. I’ve held it in some form or another all the way through my undergraduate and graduate degrees in England, and in four states I’ve lived in across the U.S. (And across the internet in recent years.)

“I like this time of year particularly because of the focus on thinking of others, and I really enjoy bringing people together to bring some cheer and show my appreciation for the people in my life who are around me, and who make it special.”

Feel free to email me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.

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