About the Questionnaire
Reform for Illinois joined with Common Cause Illinois to ask Chicago mayoral and city council candidates some crucial questions about how they would make Chicago’s government more ethical, equitable, and effective.
The results were eye-opening. Reforms like ranked-choice voting and a Fair Elections public campaign financing program were overwhelmingly popular, garnering unanimous support from the six responding mayoral candidates and nearly unanimous support from responding council candidates.
In addition, most mayoral respondents agreed that the petition process for getting on the ballot should be reformed and that the city council should be more independent of the mayor in areas like choosing its own leaders and committee chairs. Issues like aldermanic prerogative and reducing the size of the city council prompted more disagreement. Candidates also proposed other reforms, including the development of a city charter.
While survey respondents are self-selected, these results suggest many candidates believe that supporting reforms like public campaign financing and ranked-choice voting will help them win over Chicagoans. If and when they get into office, it’s up to all of us to hold them to their commitments.
Reform for Illinois is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that empowers the public to participate in government, addresses the role of money in politics, and promotes integrity, accountability, and transparency in our political system.
Common Cause Illinois is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that works to create an open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promotes equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empowers all people to make their voices heard in the political process.
Neither Reform for Illinois nor Common Cause Illinois endorses candidates.
Key Issue Takeaways for Mayoral Candidates
Fair Elections (public campaign financing): All six mayoral candidates who responded expressed enthusiastic support for public campaign financing for city offices, including for the new police district council and elected school board.
Reducing campaign contributions from lobbyists and city contractors: All respondents endorsed closing the loophole that allows high-ranking executives of city contractors to contribute more than the $1500 limit imposed on the companies themselves. All candidates also supported some kind of reduction in the current $1500 cap on contributions to city candidates from lobbyists and city vendors.
Ranked-choice voting: All six respondents supported a change from Chicago‘s current voting system to a ranked-choice system that would give voters more choices, reduce the pressure to vote strategically, and eliminate the need for a runoff for both mayoral and city council elections.
Reducing the size of the city council: Sophia King and Kam Buckner expressed outright opposition to the idea of shrinking the city council, with Buckner highlighting the importance of other city council reforms and instituting a city charter. Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson supported considering a reduction, with Vallas emphasizing it should be part of a holistic reform effort including an independent committee structure, adequate staffing, an improved districting process, and the development of a citizen-approved city charter. Sawyer and Green didn’t answer the question.
Limiting aldermanic prerogative: Brandon Johnson, Roderick Sawyer, and Sophia King appeared to believe the current state of aldermanic prerogative is not a problem and the focus should be on other reforms. The other candidates all expressed support for different types of changes related to aldermanic control.
Making the city council more independent of the mayor: Other than Ja’Mal Green, who said the decision should be left to the city council and the mayor “working through collaboration,” all candidates expressed support for the idea that the city council should become more independent, especially when it comes to the appointment of its own leaders and committee chairs.
Mayoral Candidates’ Full Answers
See below for the candidate questionnaire results for State Rep. Kam Buckner, Ja’Mal Green, Commissioner Brandon Johnson, Ald. Sophia King, Ald. Roderick T. Sawyer, and Paul Vallas.
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, and Dr. Willie L. Wilson did not respond to our questionnaire.
To make it easier to compare answers on each issue, click here to see highlights of mayoral candidates’ responses on a single page.