At the final televised debate, Lori Lightfoot held Toni Preckwinkle accountable for her patronage hiring. A panelist described how Preckwinkle “put Ed Burke Jr. into a six-figure county job at his father’s request and you held a fundraiser at his father’s home and raised $100,000– actually over $100,000” and asked “if you had to do it over, would you still have taken those actions?” Toni dodged the question, prompting the moderator to ask, “was he a clout hire?” Lightfoot then took a strong stand against patronage and highlighted her bold vision for change.
“Of course it was a clout hire,” said Lightfoot. “If you can’t acknowledge that because you have aspired to climb the broken and corrupt ladder of the broken and corrupt machine, that’s a problem. That’s exactly what people see, and fundamentally, that’s what’s motivating people to say we have to have change. We have to have a break from the past. You’re not going to see me aspiring to curry favor with the likes of Ed Burke or Joe Berrios or Tony Rezko. That’s wrong because they are part of the problem in our city. Not just in our politics, but in our government, and they’re undermining people’s confidence in our ability to actually speak for them, as opposed to the clouted few.”