Mayor Lori Lightfoot accuses rival Paul Vallas of ‘dog whistle’ over ‘take our city back’ comments – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot voted for herself Monday afternoon for a second term, then criticized rival Paul Vallas for telling crowds that his campaign for mayor is about “taking our city back,” which she called “the ultimate dog whistle.”

“He’s saying in certain audiences that we have to take our city back. What does that mean?” Lightfoot said.

The mayor referenced white Republican Bernie Epton’s 1983 campaign against Black Democrat Harold Washington, where Epton’s slogan was, “Before it’s too late.”

“We don’t need that in our city,” Lightfoot said. “And ‘take our city back’ meaning what? To what time? And take our city back from whom?”

The Tribune first reported Vallas’s comments last week, where he said at a campaign appearance in Garfield Ridge, “This whole campaign is about taking back our city, pure and simple.”

Vallas invoked that refrain throughout his remarks as the crowd soaked it in and cheered. In addition to campaigning against Lightfoot, Vallas repeatedly criticized State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

At one point at the rally, Vallas told the audience, “My favorite quote is help me help you. Help me help you. Because that is what it is about. It’s us together taking back this city, and not doing it in five years, or 10 years or 15 years. Doing it now.”

Later, Vallas returned to the line to note Foxx has been elected twice and urge residents not to do the same with Lightfoot.

“Taking back our city begins at the ballot box,” Vallas said. “Help me help you do that.”

His campaign has denied any racial motivation for his comments but did not immediately comment.

Lightfoot’s comments Monday follow rallies over the weekend where the mayor made her own controversial comments about race and voting as she rallied Black voters against the white and Latino candidates in the race.

“Any vote coming from the South Side for somebody not named Lightfoot is a vote for ‘Chuy’ Garcia or Paul Vallas,” Lightfoot said, naming the only Latino and white challengers in the race.

“If you want them controlling your destiny, then stay home. Then don’t vote. But we’ve got to do better.”

Those remarks came at a rally that frequently tapped into the historic disinvestment that South Side neighborhoods have suffered, with the mayor once again saying the “destiny” of Black Chicago is on the ballot.

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