The importance of affordable housing, new contracts for police and teachers contracts, ethics, and the role of polling took center stage at an event co-hosted by The Daily Line and the Metropolitan Planning Council on Feb. 19 to help voters make sense of the upcoming election.

The Daily Line’s Heather Cherone moderated, while TDL reporter A.D. Quig, WBBM political editor Craig Dellimore, and pollster Jason McGrath, who is working on Lori Lightfoot’s campaign, all participated.

One thing was certain — the number of candidates, the complexity of the issues and cascading headlines were leading to plenty of uncertainty.

“If you look at the data, people are really, really unsettled in this race. Is there anybody in this room who has not quite made up their mind yet?” McGrath asked.

Approximately 80 percent of the room raised their hands.

“Well you guys are paying attention. How do you think the people who haven’t been paying any attention are feeling? This is going to come down to the last couple of days in this race, it really really is. And the one or two candidates you think who have the lock into getting into the second round are not locks.”

“The last poll we did, 60 percent of the electorate had not locked in on one candidate or not, and this is not that far in the past, this is in the last couple of weeks. People are waiting. Early vote numbers are similar to 2015, but the 2016 and 2018 early vote numbers were significantly higher at this stage, and so I think this is kind of people holding back. Some might not vote, some might wait for the second round… nobody really knows what’s going to happen.”  

“Do not wait for the second round,” Dellimore warned.

On The Daily Line’s Aldercast, we spoke with half a dozen mayoral candidates about their positions on some of the biggest issues facing Chicago. Click through to read more and listen to each interview:

Paul Vallas on why he’s opposed to a fully elected school board: “One of the reasons you’ve seen a move in many states to have appointed boards is because of the failure of many school boards,” he said, including in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which defaulted to an elected school board and then saw an election with just seven percent turnout. “In [Los Angeles], the charters raised so much money, the charter school organizations were able to get control of the Los Angeles school board. So you run the risk that small special interests are going to dominate, because in school board elections sometimes you just have a fraction of the people show up.” More here.

Amara Enyia on why her friends are leaving Chicago: “They tell me it’s because they don’t see a future here… They say it’s because of the lack of affordable housing… because the job market is not conducive to being able to find work… for many it’s an issue of safety, they’re tired of feeling insecure in their neighborhoods… it’s also living in a food desert. I live in a food desert. People don’t want to have to go out of their neighborhood to get access to food or quality food, and that’s a problem, that’s a reality for many. It’s the school issue. Again, many of my peers, especially in my age range who have young children, they don’t want the headache of trying to finegle their way into a selective enrollment school and it’s very stressful, so instead they’re moving out to the suburbs.” More here.

Bill Daley on his plans to counter crime: “We have more cameras than most cities, I’d have a camera on every block in the city, a very high definition camera in order to give comfort to people, not just in those areas that have high crime, but throughout the city,” he said. His crime platform also includes further investments in police Strategic Data Support Centers, incentives for businesses to invest in security cameras, and the use of drones. “I think the training part is the most important, that’s one of the reasons I think I’m the only one of the 13 people that are actually for a new academy.” More here.

Susana Mendoza on how the city can meet its ballooning pension payments: “Look, I support a [downtown] casino, but that’s not going to help me make a payment on the pension plan, at least not now,” she said. The responsible course of action is to “at least look at” Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed pension obligation bond. “Maybe not in the way Mayor Emanuel pitched… I think that might be overly aggressive for what we need,” Mendoza said, perhaps preferring “a low to medium risk on a bond deal that would get us the cash we need to make a payment, but not over-extend ourselves too much, and then focus on a long term casino.” More here.

Lori Lightfoot on eliminating aldermanic prerogative to increase housing: “I’ve heard this from very frustrated community development organizations, that the city doesn’t lead, the city’s not involved in deals on the front end, they don’t have the perspective of how do we get to yes,” Lightfoot said. “There’s so much bureaucracy and red tape that it’s very discouraging for these community based developers to be able to get something done.” The city’s current Affordable Housing Requirements Ordinance is “not working,” she said. “We’re down 120,000 units, which is probably a conservative number… you can’t get there when you’ve got 50 different bosses making 50 different decisions.” More here.