Chicago mayoral debate heats up as Paul Vallas, Branodn Johnson discuss public safety, budget, education and other big issues

CHICAGO (WLS) — The Chicago mayoral candidates faced off in Thursday night's ABC7 debate, at times heated as they answered questions from a live studio audience about major issues facing the city.

The debate was held just over two weeks before the second round of elections.

WATCH: The Complete ABC7 Mayoral Debate

With leaders from various community organizations asking questions, Johnson and Vallas considered matters of public safety first.

“What we're going to do is train and promote another 200 detectives because we're not solving crimes in the city of Chicago, especially in impoverished black and brown communities,” Johnson said.

“New York has 6,000 detectives. That's not smart policing. Smart policing fills in the gaps and pushes police officers down to the local level, so they can respond within minutes of a 911 call,” Vallas said.

Johnson said Chicago would become safer with more investments in affordable housing, partly paid for by increasing real estate transfer taxes on multi-million dollar homes.

“The fact that we debate whether or not housing is a human right tells you why we can't rely on leftovers from the past,” Johnson said.

But Vallas said Johnson's tax plan would impact workers, not just the wealthy, and questioned the Cook County commissioner's budget experience.

“I'm basically arguing with someone who has never managed a budget. Picking a budget is different than drawing up a budget and passing it and then implementing it,” Vallas said.

“Yeah, here's what I know about budgets: Paul isn't good at it,” Johnson shot back.

Johnson challenged Vallas' claims that he successfully ran school districts in Philadelphia and New Orleans.

“You privatized two-thirds of the district, which resulted in many black women being laid off because of your failures,” he said.

Vallas challenges Johnson's biography as well.

“I contradict someone who talks about the best job he ever had was being a teacher, and he taught for five years at a school I built in Cabrini Green called Jenner,” he said.

In their closing statements, the two candidates found a point if agreement: they both said the differences in this race were stark.