King says mental health care a priority after re-election win; reiterates support for Preckwinkle, Hairston

Ald. Sophia King of the 4th Ward (Herald file photo)

By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
and AARON GETTINGER
Staff Writers

In an interview with the Herald, Ald. Sophia King (4th) said mental health care will be a top legislative priority in City Hall and voiced support for county board President Toni Preckwinkle for mayor and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) in her reelection fight.

“I’m excited and humbled to continue to serve on behalf of the 4th Ward,” King said. “I think we have a lot to do in the city. I also think that it is an exciting time for the city with the impending female, African-American mayor.”

During her next term, King wants to continue prioritizing neighborhood schools and bringing resources back to communities within her ward. King reiterated her call for parity in resource distribution across the city and said she would advocate for longtime marginalized Black and Brown communities.

“That includes looking at how we distribute resources and whether that means capital budgets or other budgets that impact the city and we need to look at those and I would call upon the new mayor and sister agencies to do that,” King said. “Major agencies that impact neighborhoods include the park district, the CHA, the city colleges, CPS, all of those need to take stock of how their resources are distributed throughout our city.”

King’s office has initiated an ordinance to create a task force on mental health with Southwest Side Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who chairs the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection. She hopes to include organizations throughout the city in the efforts.

“We want to make sure that we cover the gambit of what mental health impacts. That can be schools, the homeless population,” King explained. “We want to make sure that we cast a large net and make sure that we include those who are directly impacted by not only the state budget, the closures that happened at the city level, we wanted to make sure that we hit those as well as the larger community.”

King has supported Preckwinkle since the day she announced her candidacy for mayor, and she reiterated support for her City Council predecessor again, saying Preckwinkle can ensure strong schools and investment in resources.

“We need someone who understands what it means to [have] a strong City Council, who listens to the City Council and understand that we represent our communities and represent them the best,” King said. “We need somebody who can balance growing and bringing resources to our neighborhoods and understand that they are economic engines within themselves.”

King said that capital investments in schools and communities attract more residents, which in turn creates more revenue and retail — “But they need to be able to balance the community as an economic engine along with downtown as an economic engine. I don’t see anybody better to do that than President Preckwinkle.”

Asked to comment on runoff election in the 5th Ward, King said Hairston has been fighting to enhance her community for a number of years, “and she’s just now starting to see the fruits of some of that labor.”

“She should be given another chance to continue and improve upon the work that she’s already begun,” King said. “I share a border with the 5th Ward and would need to work hand-in-hand with somebody, and I would love for that to be Ald. Hairston.”

s.smylie@hpherald.com

a.gettinger@hpherald.com