State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe being challenged by real estate broker Tina Wallace , 911 dispatcher Keith Thornton Jr. in democratic primary; candidates say public safety top issue
by BRIAN NADIG
The Democratic field for the Illinois 19th House District race is becoming crowded, with two challengers announcing their candidacy against state Representative Lindsey LaPointe.
Chicago 911 dispatcher and former Los Angeles police officer Keith Thornton Jr., who lives in the Portage Park area, and real estate broker Tina Wallace, who lives in the Old Irving Park area, are challenging incumbent LaPointe, who was appointed to the position in 2019 after Robert Martwick left to become state senator in the 10th District.
LaPointe, who lives in the Jefferson Park area, was then elected in 2020, defeating two challengers in the primary.
The district’s boundaries have been redrawn, losing a portion of Gladstone Park to the north and picking up areas south of West Irving Park Road. The change may have increased the district’s liberal base, according to some political observers.
The three candidates agree that public safety is the top concern among voters.
“Public safety has got to be a priority, now more than ever,” Thornton said, adding that the number of police officers in Chicago is “shrinking by the minute.”
Thornton has received a lot of news coverage for his Facebook postings on the lack of beat officers working some nights in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District. He also gained praise from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and media attention for his handling as a 911 dispatcher the shooting last year of two officers, including Ella French who died from her wounds.
Thornton said that his background as a dispatcher, officer, volunteer firefighter and an EMT makes him well-suited to address public safety issues and the other concerns constituents typically bring to their legislator.
“I’m extremely approachable,” said Thornton, who grew up in Chicago. “I know this district, and I love this district. … I’m all in.”
LaPointe said that the biggest issue is the uptick in violence and that identifying the financial and technical resources which the state can provide to police departments has to be a priority. “We have to get a handle on it,” she said.
LaPointe said that the state has taken recent measures to help police and address crime, including a $5 million allocation in mental health resources for officers and a planned $250 million expenditure into community violence prevention programs. This includes nonprofit organizations that focus on reducing violence, she said.
LaPointe was one of the legislators who pushed for the removal of former House Speaker Mike Madigan, who served in the position for decades. “I stood up to Mike Madigan and said ‘it’s time to go,’” LaPointe said, adding that new leadership that listens to everybody was needed.
“The 2 ½ years went by very fast,” LaPointe said of her time in office, adding that she is proud of the work of her staff in responding to constituent needs. “They even won an award.”
“Clearly the stop issue is public safety,” Wallace said. “I’m Chicago born and raised, (and) for the first time in my life I separated my house keys from my car keys because I’m afraid of being carjacked.”
“We need … practical legislation, not ideology,” Wallace said, adding that her business career taught her how to get things done. “I know how to negotiate.”
Wallace has loaned her campaign $50,000, which she said demonstrates that she is a serious candidate and plans to win. “I’m running to deliver results … not just promises,” she said.