3 black Chicago mayoral candidates agree on little

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A candidate forum Wednesday on a black-oriented Chicago radio station appeared to do little to find a consensus black candidate for Chicago mayor next year.

CHICAGO (AP) — A candidate forum Wednesday on a black-oriented Chicago radio station appeared to do little to find a consensus black candidate for Chicago mayor next year.

The three leading black vote-getters from a recent poll, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun and Illinois state Sen. James Meeks, participated in the afternoon candidate forum on WVON-AM. Under questioning by moderator Cliff Kelley, the three said they agreed on the need for increased transparency at City Hall and the importance of putting a professional educator at the helm of the Chicago Public Schools, but little else.

WVON president Melody Spann Cooper said earlier that the forum would be an important step in finding the best candidate for African-Americans, who are the largest registered voting base in the city.

"There are groups meeting all over Chicago in an attempt to pick a consensus candidate," Cooper said in a statement. "We look at this as an opportunity to showcase these candidates so that the voters can make an informed decision, versus a candidate being hand-picked for them."

In a Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released Tuesday night, Davis was the leading black candidate in the crowded field, with support from 9 percent of registered likely voters, followed by Meeks with 7 percent and Moseley-Braun with 6 percent.

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is facing residency qualification challenges, was the only candidate in the double digits, with the support of 32 percent of those polled. That was only slightly higher than the 30 percent who were still undecided.

Mosley-Braun and Meeks were in the studio for the two-hour forum, while Davis participated through a phone link from an airport before boarding a flight to Washington at the end of the first hour.

After Davis caught his flight, Meeks and Moseley-Braun sidestepped Kelley’s question about whether the 69-year-old congressman might be too old to serve the two terms the three candidates said might be necessary to deal with the city’s budgetary, school and police problems.

Earlier, Kelley asked Moseley-Braun if she might consider dropping out in favor of another candidate, but she replied that she was "in it to win it."

The three clashed on such issues as downtown casino gambling, school vouchers and term limits for city and state elected officials.

Davis said he personally opposes gambling on religious grounds, but would definitely consider a casino to increase city revenue. Meeks, who is a pastor, said he opposes all gambling expansion, while Moseley-Braun said the issue should be subject to a referendum.

Meeks is a strong proponent of school vouchers, but Moseley-Braun said she opposes them and sees them as a step toward the privatization of education. And part of Davis’ platform or school reform is an elected school board, which both Meeks and Moseley-Braun rejected out of hand.

On term limits for elected officials, Meeks said he supports them for all posts, but Moseley-Braun responded by saying, "The best term limit is the ballot box." She said imposed term limits weaken elected officials in their dealings with appointed bureaucrats. And Davis said term limits make sense for the executive branch, but should not apply to legislative posts.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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