Actually, I don't know what the mayoral race means. Not really. But I do find some of the implications interesting and it's fun to watch the pundits pile on as though they really know what's going on.
we do know is this: Mayor Emanuel did not get the margin of votes he
needed to escape a run-off. So now he and former Senator and current
Cook County commissioner "Chuy" Garcia go head-to-head. Did the other
three candidates siphon off enough votes to make sure Emanuel didn't get
the votes he needed? Maybe. Or those votes could have tipped more in
Garcia's favor. Meh. We'll never know. Move on.
Mr. Garcia needs some help with his on-TV and on-stage presence. He has
yet to look comfortable there. In my uninformed opinion, Mr. Garcia got
as many votes he did because people were voting against Mr. Emanuel.
As for Mr. Garcia, well, no one seems to be sure what he stands for or how he would make Chicago work more efficiently or effectively if elected mayor.
He has the endorsement of Karen Lewis, CTU president. Anyone who knows
anything about Chicagoland politics knows that Ms. Lewis was planning to
run for mayor but was sidelined with a brain tumor. Even so, she
remains a force to be reckoned with and clearly has the ear of Mr.
Garcia. Just sayin'.
On the other hand, Garcia is well-known among the Latino population and is viewed with admiration and respect.
Cook County commissioners have not always been known for their honesty
and integrity, so that he is an exception to that rule is good. However,
he has to be realistic about the deep financial problems of Chicago and
he has to be realistic about solutions, none of which will be popular
and all of which will be hard.
I'm concerned there are
any points of reference about personality in the mayoral race. This
isn't or shouldn't be a popularity contest, and no one should be
surprised by Mr. Emanuel's personality. We saw him in action in the
White House and we've seen him in action as mayor.
read a lot of the articles analyzing the differences between Mr.
Emanuel and Mr. Garcia. Nothing new there. The question is who can get
the job done? Who can step up to all of the hard problems; make the hard
and unpopular decisions; address or ignore the sniping from all sides,
especially the special interest groups; and still keep focus on the job
that needs to be done?
We know that last year's school closings are still a big issue in Chicago.
We also know that plenty of the current schools are still struggling.
We know that solving the problems of education is not an easy one even
if we don't talk about pensions and union contracts.
one wants to experience cuts. No one likes austerity; just ask the
Greeks. But we cannot expect "the government"--city, state, or
federal--to pay when "the government" has no money. Why? Because "the
government" is us: the taxpayers. If we can't afford it, we can't have
it. It doesn't matter if we think we deserve whatever "it" is.
have to wonder if some of the folks who voted against Mr. Emanuel did
so because he is not Mayor Daley because they are remembering the Mayor
Daley who did so much good for the city and the county. That same Mayor
Daley who did not address some of the hard problems and added a few new
ones to the mix.
Somehow, I think, Mayor Emanuel has to
convince voters that he is the guy who can step up to the hard
problems, who can weather all the criticism any mayor is going to get,
but who is going to focus on the tasks at hand. . .and that he is and
can be a nice guy who is more than his reputation with the 1-percenters
and his friendship with Governor Rauner.
I think Mayor
Emanuel and Governor Rauner are uniquely suited to these troubled times
in the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago. I think they have to
be coaches, though. They have to help Chicago and Illinois realize that
we are well below .500 in our conference and that we don't have a chance
at a winning season unless we make some hard choices.
I do know what this race means. I don't know much about Mr. Garcia
except what I've seen and heard in his campaign ads and read about it.
In my opinion, not a lot of substance. I'm not sure Mr. Garcia can help
move Chicago out of its malaise. I think Mr. Garcia could be a useful
buffer for Mr. Emanuel to try to repair or moderate Mr. Emanuel's
relationship with Ms. Lewis who seems mostly pissed off that Mr. Emanuel
did not approach her for her counsel on school-related issues.
In the long run, I think this race is an indicator of whether or not Chicago can and will survive and
thrive. We'll see what the people of Chicago believe, but actions after
April 7th will be far more important than the words between now and