Could CTA’s security become a political issue? Mayor Lightfoot says no, but opponent may disagree

CHICAGO (CBS) — The security of the Chicago Transit Authority’s system is number one in the race for mayor of Chicago.

As CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov reported on Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot recognizes that there is still much to be done. The mayor also said the crime on the CTA is not a political problem – but one of his opponents is trying to make one.

“The CTA is a lifeblood of the city – whether it’s the bus lines, whether it’s the train lines – we need to do a better job,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

The mayor’s remarks amounted to a concession that the recent outbreak of violence on CTA property is a real concern.

At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, a 50-year-old man was stabbed and pushed into the tracks of the Cicero Avenue Green Line station on the city’s West Side.

Later that night, a 39-year-old man was driving the Blue Line train at Wicker Park when he was approached by a stranger and the two began to argue. The assailant retrieved a knife and attacked the motorcyclist.

The victim exited the train at the Damen stop and sustained a laceration to the right side of his face and arm, and was transported to Northwestern Hospital in good condition, police said.

At around 7.30am on Sunday, three men were standing on the platform of the Midway Orange Line terminal near 59th Street and Cicero Avenue in West Elsdon.

Three men, aged 41, 48 and 29, were on the platform when a stranger started arguing with them. The assailant then pulled out a knife and began swinging it at the three victims.

There have been half a dozen violent CTA attacks in the past week alone. Chicago TV host Will Clinger suffered an attack at the Addison Street Red Line stop alongside Wrigley Field.

“I think they could use more staff, you know, both on the trains and on the platforms, frankly,” Clinger said last week.

Clinger — the former host of the WTTW-Channel 11 show “Wild Chicago” and current host of “Wild Travels” — isn’t alone in expressing concerns about the need for more security on the CTA.

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson also voices such concerns.

“I think it should be transit police and armed police on the train though,” Wilson said.

Wilson rode the CTA Red Line from the 95th Street terminal north to the State Street subway downtown on Monday – and made his CTA safety remarks on what could arguably be described as a strain of country.

Mayor Lightfoot said there was an urgent need to bring more security resources to trains and buses.

“I had several conversations over the weekend with (Police) Superintendent (David Brown); with Dorval Carter, the CTA Chairman,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “There needs to be better communication and collaboration there.”

But in the meantime, does the mayor fear that the security of the CTA will be a major electoral issue?

“This is not about politics,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “It’s about making sure people are safe.”

CTA employees and their union leaders have expressed frequent concerns about employee safety, particularly over the past two years. And of course, the union scan really has an impact on voters’ choice in elections.

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