July 17, 2023 10:30am

Serafin Power Poll: Chicago experience a must for the next top officer

Police Superintendent finalists, the NASCAR aftermath, Divvy's 10 year anniversary in the city, and those that are moving out

By Megan McFarlane
Chicago, IL Correspondent
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Names of the three finalists for Chicago’s top officer position have been released by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. After an extensive search, two veterans of the Chicago Police Department--Chicago’s Chief of Counterterrorism Larry Snelling and Angel Novalez, Chief of Constitutional Policing and Reform, are in the running for Police Superintendent. Both have decades of experience with CPD. The third candidate--Shon Barnes is the police chief in Madison, Wisconsin. Barnes is not a total outsider, having previously served as the training director at the Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

We asked this month’s Serafin Power Pollers how important it is that the new Superintendent be a Chicagoan. The majority--45%-- said it was very important. 32% said it was somewhat important, while 23% said it didn’t matter. Mayor Brandon Johnson has 30 days to decide who gets the job. Although unlikely, he could scrap the list completely and start over.

Despite heavy rain and plenty of delays, the inaugural NASCAR Street Race was viewed by nearly 5 million people. Broadcast coverage earned ratings that were among the highest in NASCAR history. So should Mayor Johnson give the green flag to another NASCAR race next year? We asked power pollers and an overwhelming majority --63% -- said yes. A real turnaround in opinion since 60% last month said the road closures weren’t worth the benefits. That might mean pollers had a great time at the event, perhaps were impressed when they saw how beautiful our city looked on TV or weren’t bothered by any inconvenience. Kudos to city officials and to NASCAR for working together to make the event a success for everybody!

Summer in Chicago is off to a very Midwestern start: thunderstorms, tornados, humidity as thick as molasses. Not to mention the smoke from the Canadian wildfires that made our air quality among the worst in the world. Evidently, it bothered very few of our pollers. 48% said all that smoke had minimal impact on their lives. 36% said they were purposely avoiding outdoor activities, while 9% used a mask outside and 7% felt noticeably sick.

Crain’s reported that $100 billion in wealth has migrated South with corporations and residents citing tech opportunities and tax incentives as the impetus for the move. Among the states losing to places like North Carolina and Florida is Illinois, with the highest combined state and local taxes in the nation. We asked our pollers to rank from 1-5 what they think are the biggest factors for people saying goodbye to Illinois. High cost of living and taxes ranked #1 (40%), with the high crime rates close behind it (37%) and weather ranking 3rd (11%). Job opportunities elsewhere (10%) and schools (2%) brought up the rear, respectively.

If you haven’t already taken advantage of Chicago’s many bike trails this summer, now’s the time to get out there. As the city celebrates ten years of Divvy, we wanted to know if our Serafin Power Pollers thought Chicago should provide more bike lanes. Cyclists can currently enjoy 432 miles of lanes and trails, compared to more than 4,000 miles of city streets.

But is it enough? We asked our pollers how they felt about the current bike infrastructure: The majority, 38%, said we need to improve our existing transportation infrastructure since the mix of scooters, bikes, and cars pose a threat to residents. And another 28% said the City should prioritize public transportation to encourage eco-friendly travel. Together, that’s a whopping 68% who want transportation options that are better for the environment. 23% of pollers said the current infrastructure is fine as is but agree it would be smart to add additional bike lanes. The final 11% of Serafin power pollers said the City should not invest further in bicycle infrastructure and instead prioritize smooth car travel. To those 11%, we ask—have you ever been to Amsterdam? A clear majority of our residents think we need to improve our infrastructure to improve public transportation.

A total of 1164 Serafin Power Poll members were surveyed and the participation rate was 10.4%. The Serafin Power Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather a fascinating and non-partisan glimpse into the attitudes and opinions of the decision-makers and thought leaders in the Chicago region. See all Serafin Power Poll articles at serafin.com/powerpoll.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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