The City of Chicago, like many other political jurisdictions and sub-divisions is facing difficult economic and social times. There are budget deficits, revenue shortfalls, high unemployment, crumbling infrastructures, high crime rates, drug use, underper
The City of Chicago, like many other political jurisdictions and sub-divisions is facing difficult economic and social times. There are budget deficits, revenue shortfalls, high unemployment, crumbling infrastructures, high crime rates, drug use, underperforming schools, violence, problems with pensions, healthcare needs, growing senior populations, immigration issues, job creation needs and other great challenges.
There had been speculation for some time that Mayor Daley may not run for re-election and people, including Rahm Emanuel indicated that they were interested in running for mayor, some only if Mayor Daley was not running. When Mayor Daley announced that he would not be a candidate, several people announced or indicated an interest. Some people felt that Rahm Emanuel may have known that at the very least, Mayor Daley was seriously thinking about not running, since Rahm Emanuel had stated his interest earlier.
I too was contacted by friends and political supporters who encouraged me to run. I indicated that I was interested and might also be a candidate.
A group of African American Alderman, other elected officials, ministers, and community activists/leaders formed a coalition and began a process to try and arrive at a consensus candidate. The process was heavily reported on by mainstream media and encouraged by many within the African American community and outside of the community. They met for many hours and had very serious discussions, interviewed candidates, arrived at preferences, reversed those preferences and eventually voted that I would be their choice.
In the meantime there were other smaller groups having discussions and they arrived at a different decision. During the coalition interview process, they asked candidates if they would run if not selected by the group, I indicated that I would not because my basic goal was to try and unify the community, some other candidates indicated that they were running and some indicated that they would not run without the group’s endorsement and support.
Many people have asked, ‘Why is it important to have a consensus African American
Candidate?’ All of us know something about the history of the United States and the struggles engaged in by various racial and ethnic groups to work their way into mainstream American decision-making and while great progress has been made, some of these are not experiencing full equality or equal protection under the law, yet.
I will not attempt to go much further into history here; but let me mention a little bit about current events and how they affect public decision-making. Chicago remains one of the most segregated big cities in the United States of America. Most Black Chicagoans live in three areas of the city. Southside, Westside and along the lakefront, most whites live in three areas of the city, Southwest side, Northwest Side, and along the Lakefront, Latinos live predominately in three or four areas of the city and are continuing the move westward; Pilsen/Little Village, Westtown/Humboldt Park, along the Lakefront and Southeast Chicago.
Other population groups such as Asian Americans are clustered in areas like Chinatown, Devon Street area, along the Lakefront and other communities on the Northside of the City. As their numbers grow they too are becoming more engaged in electoral politics and are seeking to be heard.
Arab Americans are increasing in population, establishing businesses, establishing community residences in parts of Southwest and Northwest Chicago and surrounding suburban communities and are becoming more active in local political decision-making.
Many of these population groups live fairly isolated from each other and don’t necessarily have a great deal of social economic or political interaction. Therefore, much of their thinking is along racial, ethnic and sometimes economic and moral lines.
Notwithstanding all of the talk about a consensus Black candidate, during the early stages of the campaign there were several white candidates mentioned who would have been top tier candidates, however, they did not run and are not candidates.
I was politically involved when Mayor Harold Washington died and a big fight emerged over who should be mayor, Tim Evans or Eugene Sawyer, both were experienced/seasoned politicians and elected officials and of course they both lost.
In addition to every thing else that you need to win a citywide election in Chicago is money. It has been reported that both Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico have several million dollars in their campaign fund. I did not have several million dollars, as a matter of fact, I did not have one million dollars, even though I had a lot of goodwill and support from the people, and I thank them and love them for it.
I also detected the emergence of a bit of class warfare within the African American community; Danny Davis vs. Carol Mosley Braun, Carol Mosley Braun vs. Danny K. Davis. I have never been against Carol Mosley Braun and was not running against her, I was running for mayor, plus there were other people in the race.
I also ran into Black people who thought there was a difference between people who lived on the Southside and Westside, some thought that because people had a job they were different than those who lived in apartments, or if you lived in one place, and someone else lived in another your class made you different.
I wanted to unify the African American community. I did not want African Americas to do like many did after Harold Washington died, and Tim Evans and Eugene Sawyer were contenders, many forgot that States Attorney Richard Daley was running and of course, he won.
I have always understood the need to unify one’s political base if they are to win elections, while reaching out at the same time to build coalitions. Knowing that you need both the will of the people and adequate financial resources, when I received word that a group of African American businesspersons had coalesced to spearhead the raising of enough money for former Senator/Ambassador Carol Mosley Braun to be financially competitive with Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico, the Rev. Senator James Meeks met and agreed that we would commit ourselves to helping Carol Mosley Braun become the next Mayor for all Chicago, for the good of the city.