Chicago has a profound opportunity. For the first time, ever, there is a chance to select a new mayor for the City of Chicago, a real new mayor.
Not a new election or a new re-election, not an election of someone whom others wanted, or of someone somebody sent, but a real new mayor – an authentic leader for all of the people of Chicago.
That is the opportunity that lies ahead next February 26 or with the possible runoff on April 2, 2019 if no one receives the majority of votes and wins outright the first time.
There are 21 candidates that have filed for the election, the most for a Chicago mayoral race since 1901, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
The candidates range from the White House experience to professional bureaucrats to novice to the young and restless and idealistic.
Six of them have held elective office – Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown; former Alderman Bob Fioretti; State Rep. LaShawn Ford; Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza; and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.Five have been appointed to office – former Chicago Public Schools President Gery Chico; former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley; former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot; former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy; and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.
The final 10 come from a variety of backgrounds – Willie Wilson is a millionaire businessman; Amara Enyia is from the Austin Chamber of Commerce; Jeremiah Joyce Jr. and John Kolzar are lawyers.
Jamal Green and Catherine Brown D’Tycoon are activists. Conrein Hykes Clark is a school volunteer. Neal Sales-Griffin is a Northwestern University tech professor and entrepreneur; Roger Washington a police officer. Former aldermanic candidate in 2015 Sandra Mallory and former congressional candidate in 2016 Richard Mayers have no campaign websites or social media accounts.
Several of these candidates are bound to be knocked out of the race during the petitions challenge process that is currently going on.
According to reports, as of December 4, Bill Daley had raised the most money with $2.7 million – he’s already running TV commercials – and Gery Chico follows him at $1.1 million. Lori Lighfoot comes in third with over $800,000.
Money notwithstanding, according to a mid-November poll by Global Strategy Group, the same pollsters Illinois Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker used, Toni Preckwinkle is leading the race at 15 percent, followed by Susana Mendoza at 13 percent; Bill Daley nine percent; Willie Wilson eight percent; Garry McCarthy seven percent; and Paul Vallas at six percent.
However, in a run-off, the poll shows Mendoza beating Preckwinkle 39 percent to 33 percent or Mendoza beating Daley 47 percent to 29 percent. Mendoza is particularly strong with voters under 45 years of age, getting 47 percent of their vote compared to Preckwinkle’s 25 percent.
Every election is important, but this one is special. Whomever the new mayor is faces a number of critical issues, including taking on the city’s financial challenges like the debt burden, pension system shortfalls and property tax rates, as well as crime and violence rates, economic and racial divisions and gentrification, and concerns around the police use of force.
What Of Rahm?
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in September that he would not seek re-election as mayor the country’s third largest city. Like it or not, Rahm took us to a new level, with modern transportation. He changed downtown’s high-rise skyline.
He transformed the West Loop from factories to technology businesses with restaurants and rentals and corporate headquarters. While he increased the city’s revenue with remodeling and repurposing, he was not necessarily inclusive as he held on to the attitude of “father knows best.”
Rahm was not a neighborhoods mayor. He forgot the neighborhoods, he closed the schools, and he covered-up the police murder of Laquan McDonald. These negative factors rendered a political reality check to Emanuel that he couldn’t win the next election, even with the help of White House friends, so he decided to cut his losses and not even run again.
A Time For Hope!
I am hoping that with the new mayor, our schools are open and secure and that all are of the excellence of the Chicago schools that bear the names of Whitney Young, Robert Lindblom and Walter Payton.
I hope that kids everywhere can play outside in their front yards and the playground without fear of gunshots as they walk and ride to school. I hope that city workers can get their pension but without what feels like a penalty to those who own real estate.
I hope the Black exodus halts and people from all over the world choose to move here because of Chicago’s beauty and progressiveness and safety. I hope people move to Chicago for its warmth, good schools and job opportunities, not to forget the natives.
I hope the Obama Presidential Library Center is built and transforms the South Side with the surrounding neighborhoods in place, as they will be enhanced with productive businesses.
These are relatively simple things, but they are things that matter to a new and progressive Chicago. The former mayors, for various reasons, overlooked or forgot or ignored, sometimes because of racism, sometimes because of ignorance.
We need a new mayor that will see all of Chicago, who will build coalitions, in the image of Mayor Harold Washington. I hope the new mayor borrows a page from the late President George Bush, Mr. 41, and that is to do the best things for the city and not self, as we seek new beginnings.
I hope that we can conquer our financial issues and that the city can look at things equally and divide accordingly so that we can function as one city, one Chicago – for real and not as a slogan.
We the citizens of Chicago are deserving of a new mayor that will look forward for all as we progress, with respect to all of our differences. We need a united city that presents the world with tradition and innovation.
We need newness and a fresh trusting vibe that makes us one metropolis that sits by the lake, with parks and the world’s largest Ferris wheel, that sent a community organizer and a South Side lady to the White House.
Chicago needs a new mayor, a real mayor, with a new mission and a new vision for all.