Chicago’s Mayoral Zoo

Chicago’s favorite sport is politics. Everybody has an opinion and knows who will win.

When Rahm Emanuel on September 4, 2018, Chicago’s very own 44, withdrew from seeking a third term as mayor, he changed the landscape of Chicago politics into the foreseeable future.

He left the people of Chicago with either a gift or a nightmare. It might be the second time around for a Black mayor or a female mayor. Chicago has never had a Black female mayor; maybe now is the time with the rise of Black women’s power.

Those who were in the race before September 4, like Willie Wilson, Paul Vallas, Lori Lightfoot, and Garry McCarthy took giant, bold, confident and fearless steps with their candidacies as they challenged Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Those who follow Rahm’s resignation, like Toni Preckwinkle and Bill Daley, are big name Democrats who are safe players and didn’t want to confront Rahm directly, although both have issues with him.

Already we have seen three mayoral campaigns in a very short time – one with Rahm in, one without Rahm, and another with the Democratic stalwarts. Poor Chicago, what’s a city to do with so many candidates?

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Another Daley?

Bill Daley is already reaching out for possible workers. Is Chicago ready for another Daley? The Daley dynasty lasted 43 years.

Richard J. Daley occupied the 5th floor form 1955 to 1976. He was the boss of big city democratic bosses. He ruled with a golden wand, and history records he made John F. Kennedy the President of the United States with foxy votes from Chicago’s South Side.

He fought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He fought the hippies that threatened his city at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. He issued the police order of “shoot to kill and aim to maim” when the city was burning with deadly riots after King’s death. He provided counsel to U.S. presidents and even hosted the Queen of England. He built the University of Illinois urban campus.

Inside his machine were two powerhouse Black men, Congressman William Dawson and John Sengstackeof the Chicago Defender. The two of them delivered Black voters along with six Black aldermen who were referred to as the “Silent Six.”

His son Richard M. Daley’s reign was from 1989 to 2011. It lasted 22 years over five terms, making him Chicago’s longest-sitting mayor. He listened to Black clergy and had his ear to the ground as he built neighborhoods with city institutions like libraries, police stations, schools and tif funding. He built Millennium Park in the center of downtown where there were once railroad tracks. He gave the city a “living room.” He built the Harold Washington Library. He gave us a revitalized Soldier Field and Sox Park.

Are we ready for the Irish to dominate the city again, and perhaps even take over the county again? Remember when Papa Daley held three major posts? He was head of the Democratic Party, the County Board, and City Hall. Let there be Daley, so we can get the work done.

The question is why is Bill Daley running in the first place? Well, there are contracts to be had, like O’Hare, like the Obama Library. Remember Daley and Rahm Emanuel held the same position in the White House to Number 44; they both were chiefs of staff in the Obama administration. Their White House paths have lead to Chicago’s Fifth Floor with a city budget of $3,742.4 billion in 2018.

Daley did not take kindly to Mayor Emanuel’s negative blame insinuations about his brother Richard when he was mayor and he addressed it. So, is this revenge politics in the making?

Bill Daley would probably be a good mayor, maybe even a great one as he adds perhaps another chapter to the Daley dynasty.

He is a lawyer, he has been a banker, he is a political insider and he was the Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton Administration. He knows the party; he is a student of politics from local Back of the Yards to Washington’s West Wing. He would probably represent Chicago’s neighborhoods much better than Emanuel. He loves the city.

He is smart and “a Daley should always be in office,” is probably the family motto, just like a Kennedy should always be in a seat. So we will see – he knows the players and he knows the game. His biggest challenge, is, is Chicago ready for another Daley? Power can be intoxicating. Bill Daley would be a different kind of mayor with a nice mix of neighborhood politics, national flavor, business commerce and banker savvy.

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Soda Tax Toni

And then the other post-Rahm retiring announcement is coming from President of the County Board Toni Preckwinkle. She is scheduled to enter the race on tomorrow afternoon at the same place where Harold announced his candidacy. A little nostalgia never hurt nobody. Leaders of the Black community begged her to run against Rahm as he approached his second term. She declined. Was fear a factor?

Toni has amassed real power and has come a long way from independent politics to being party boss. She literally became what she was fighting. Toni ran in 1983 for the 4th ward aldermanic seat and lost twice. She was elected alderman in 1991 of the 4th ward and served a five-term alderman.

In 2010, she became the first woman ever elected to be the Cook County Board President. She is a career politician, she knows how to campaign, she has an infrastructure and she can raise money. She is shrewd and functions from the base of coalition politics. She has become a queen maker.

Her most controversial issue ever was the proposed soda tax. She got public backlash and many are still angry and she may suffer in her mayoral bid because of that. She has been a straight-line politician moving upward and forward. That is her style.

Though she has been a straight arrow, she, like many Blacks who get into power positions, has done little for the Black community. The County spend with Black enterprise is dismal with Toni at the helm of a $5.36 billion budget.

She has done very little to contract with Black enterprise as she has enriched developers and contractors. Her Cook County budget is $2 billion more than the city’s. Why not consolidate power rather than subtract from it? Just asking.

I would hate to see her run and lose, though, because she has had a stellar career of politics, from being an independent to a party boss. Will she and Bill Daley clash or cooperate?

Their competition for the mayoral seat stands to disrupt Chicago’s Democratic Party, especially if Chuy Garcia enters the race. There goes the party. Or maybe the strategy is that Garcia pulls the non-Daley votes from the Hispanics and Toni pulls the non-Daley votes from the Blacks and Daley walks through the middle straight to City Hall. Maybe??

Toni has been critical of Richie Daley as well but has worked well with Daley brother John, as he chairs the county finance committee and is likely to become Board Chair, depending on where Toni’s political future lies.

And then there is the backroom politics. Surely, Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Mike Madigan, Eddie Burke, corporate Chicago and even Jay Pritzker are whispering as they try to install the next regime of the Fifth Floor.

The reality is this is an open race and anybody can win. People are sick and tired of traditional politics, elitism, and downtown exclusive commerce. People are tired of exclusion, poor schools, and high crime. Black people are sick of the crumbs. Where is the beef?

The real task is for the next mayor to unite the country’s most segregated city into one. One Chicago, please. There could be a real upset, which is the American political trend of the day. New winners are grassroots campaigners who are virtually unknown and are upsetting the established well-funded campaigns.

Even Donald Trump fits that category of the upset. He beat the establishment and party favorites with unorthodox ways, 18 different times. And then he won the big one against the most qualified, dues paid up, history about to be made, established and grounded politician, Hillary Clinton.

At this point, this race can’t be called. Pass the popcorn, please. Let’s sit back and watch the political maneuvers, the dropouts, the money, and the moves, and may the best person win.

Hermene Hartman
Hermene Hartman

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