By: Sean Hemmersmeier
One of Chicago’s mayoral candidates is not like the rest: he has previously been fired by the mayor’s office. That candidate is Garry McCarthy, the former Chicago Police Superintendent, who was fired due to the Laquan McDonald case and controversy over how the police handled the situation. Specifically, McCarthy was released as a result of the police department’s efforts to keep the video of the shooting from going public.
McCarthy thinks he was unjustly fired. When asked during an episode of Chicago Tonight if he feels like a scapegoat, he said “Maybe. … The simple fact is, I was allowed by law to take one action in the Van Dyke case, and that was to put him on paid desk duty. The entirety of that cover-up occurred at City Hall.” McCarthy said that City Hall was in charge of the McDonald video and that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s law department also fought the release of the video in court. McCarthy claims that the video was not released because of political reasons.
McCarthy wants to distance his campaign from the McDonald incident, saying that the incident has nothing to do with why he is running for mayor. He thinks that the shakedown of the police department after that incident was a political witch hunt and could have been handled better. He brings up the example of the “I can’t breathe” chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and how they did not fire people within the department for minor disciplinary infractions.
The main policies that McCarthy wants to put in place when in office are related to taxes, the economy of the city, crime and public safety, and the education of children, according to his campaign website.
McCarthy has spent his entire career in law enforcement and thinks that the one thing that needs to be fixed in Chicago before anything else can be addressed is public safety, arguing that “Nothing is going to change in this city until we first make it safe.” His main focus is to make people feel like Chicago is a safe city. Throughout his campaign press tour, McCarthy has repeatedly said that a main reason why he is running is that his friends and other residents are moving out of Chicago due to a lack of safety.
When analyzing the problems within Chicago schools, McCarthy says that “whatever happens outside the schools affects what happens inside them,” meaning that if a kid has to live in violent neighborhood, that violence will affect the child’s education. He also has slammed Emanuel for closing 57 schools between 2013 to 2018, although McCarthy says that he won’t try to reopen any of these schools. McCarthy says he will use the proceeds gained from closing the schools to re-invest in neighborhood schools.
McCarthy’s plan to fix crime in the city is based around a 12-point plan that involves a blue-ribbon panel review of all Chicago police department proceedings, making the police more accountable and accessible to the community and prioritizing anti-gang and illegal firearms arrests. McCarthy’s plan to resolve crime and police-related issues isn’t as radical as those of other mayoral candidates, but it is also less defined, since the 12-point plan does have a lot vague language.
Stopping borrowing, creating stricter budgets and maintaining a strong tax base are the ways that McCarthy wants to run the city’s finances if he gets elected. He sees the “mass exodus” from Chicago as a problem, since that population shrinkage lowers the city’s tax base. McCarthy is also very critical of borrowing money, since he sees that as a short-term solution that doesn’t ultimately fix the problem. In order to get rid of Chicago’s borrowing habits, McCarthy wants to make strict budgets for government departments and put in place performance-based metrics to help keep departments more accountable.
McCarthy’s two main points to help Chicago are to keep residents within the city and to make people feel safe within the city. He sees public safety as the first step to solving Chicago’s issues. The biggest challenge McCarthy will face is public trust, since he was in charge during one of the most problematic times in Chicago police history. However, if the public sees him as a candidate for safety rather than a bureaucrat that was in charge of the police responsible for the Laquan McDonald incident, he will have a better shot at becoming mayor.