Monday, April 22, 2024

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Local Voices: Chicago mayoral election also affects suburbs


Submitted by Michelle M. Ryan

The Chicago mayoral election is of interest (and should be) to many suburbs, especially those who are separated from the city by a mere street. We see and hear Chicago’s mayor almost daily through media, and we often grumble hoping for a change. A change is certainly on the way. Big city issues that can affect all of us include crime, taxes, parking, red-light and speed cameras, juveniles, and general expenses.

Going back over four years ago, a major concern for suburbs was when Mayor Rahm Emmanuel planned to raise water rates to suburbs that relied on city-supplied Lake Michigan water to help balance Chicago’s budget. A trickle-down effect was an understatement as suburban officials looked for other options and braced for a flood in water rate hikes. This is only one example where the buck is passed to suburbs but they have no vote on the matter.

Currently, crime is the number one issue throughout the whole Chicago mayoral campaign. Candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson have very different opinions. It was national news in 2019 when suburban police chiefs issued a “vote of no confidence” against Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, especially regarding her strategy to de-criminalize non-violent crimes.

During a recent forum on Fox News Chicago, when asked about Foxx’s job performance, Vallas said he thinks she is not aggressive enough in keeping dangerous criminals off the streets, leading to repeat offenders. Johnson said he thinks she is a good leader with incredible integrity. His focus was on how many falsely imprisoned inmates she set free.

Living in one of those suburbs separated by one street, it was not uncommon for me to see Chicago police crossing jurisdictions. I was once caught in the middle of a high-speed police chase close to home. The Chicago police were pursuing suspects from an incident in the city that spread into my village. The suspects fled on foot and were shooting at police. The incident was on the news. However, I haven’t seen Chicago police in my area for several years. Mayor Lori Lightfoot took credit for overhauling and reforming police vehicle and foot pursuits, according to her website.

Vallas and Johnson also have very different approaches on solutions for public safety. Vallas wants to keep schools open on weekends and holidays and throughout the summer to keep juveniles off the streets and out of trouble. Johnson wants to invest in youth by training and employment to deter youth from a life of crime. Debates continue on restructuring the police department, and, either way, it comes down to money. Both candidates stated they would not add a financial burden to Chicagoans by raising property taxes. Where will the money come from?

Suburban commuters may already be contributing money (involuntarily), as Chicago issued “over 1 million parking tickets to drivers in the first six months of 2022,” according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Their investigation also found that Chicago’s speed cameras “have failed to deliver the promised safety improvements, and fatalities actually increased. The cameras did deliver a lot of cash: $36 million.” Red light cameras are another complaint and money source for Chicago affecting commuters.

Voluntary trips downtown may be curtailed because of crime but many suburbanites have to commute downtown for their jobs. Johnson’s $800 million business plan initially included a $40 million tax (a city surcharge) for suburbanites commuting to work via Metra. I remember that commercial prior to the runoff election and then never saw it again. According to, the idea caused a firestorm, and Johnson no longer considered it, however, his website still shows $800 million.

Suburbanites who travel to the city on a regular basis are also likely helping with Chicago’s finances in other ways. Commuters who drive have to pay for parking, which is very expensive. Workers are likely patronizing food establishments regularly and may shop in Chicago as well. Taxes are likely higher than in suburbs, plus the seven cents per bag unless you bring your own. Is it fair to charge us some kind of head tax or should Chicago be grateful we’re coming there and spending our money?

Despite all the issues, there is no question that Chicago is rich in beauty. There are diverse cultures and all the tourist attractions the city offers – entertainment venues, restaurants, museums, Lake Michigan, parades, stores, landmarks, architecture, the Christkindl market, Santa Claus, just to name a few. Hopefully, we will all see an improvement in Chicago over the next four years.

Learn more about both candidates at and

Michelle M. Ryan

Local Voices
Local Voices
Local Voices is The Lansing Journal's version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Submissions may be sent to [email protected] with “Voices” in the subject line.


    • Thank you. I hope to offer fellow suburbanites interesting topics to ponder and discuss.

  1. Lansing, IL is not at the mercy of Chicago as a supplier of our water. Lansing surface water comes through Hammond, IN and pumped through the booster station at Paxton/175th Street before supplying Thornton and Glenwood on its way to stations in Chicago Heights.

    Being in the same county (Cook) as a major city like Chicago has advantages as well as disadvantages. To agree with Michelle, Chicago is a very rich environment geographically, socially, and economically. Chicago, a powerful provider for all-things downstate where deficits exist for infamous decisions made. Candidate Johnson spoke of plenty for everyone while Candidate Vallis described in detail how to manage the bounty. Is Chicago a cash hog or is it a cash cow. This is a question for management. The wealth of this city belongs to the city and not those sitting in office. We know all too well how the latter has played out in Illinois over the decades.

    By definition, holding public office is one of servitude. A Mayor is a trustee, and as a trustee has a fiduciary relationship to the people. A fiduciary holds something of value which he or she does not own, but is charged with managing the valuable item for the sole purpose of benefitting the beneficiary of that trust. We as constituents trust that our elected public officials will further the goals for the good of the public and not to improve the standing of the public officer.

    You may ask yourself how will I know which candidate possesses the ability to perform the duty of the office? An earmark of one who acts on behalf of another’s benefit would not usher in negative campaigning instead provide sincere possibilities for responsible outcomes.

    • Thank you for all of your good points and reassuring residents that Lansing does not rely on Chicago for water. Good for Lansing! Your comment “The wealth of this city belongs to the city and not those sitting in office,” is well said.

      The candidates seem to start with focusing on the purpose of the office, but then someone starts the mud-slinging. It’s good when the victim stays focused, but they may have to defend themself. Hopefully others notice this.

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