Great choices showcase Chicago’s mayoral election
A quick look at all of the great Chicago mayoral contenders and their slogans. Suburbanites want Chicago to succeed. When the city goes down, it drags the suburbs with. Crime there creates crime in the suburbs. Drugs there brings drugs to the suburbs. And when Chicago suffers financially, the politicians turn to the suburbs to bail them out with our hard earned taxes. But this election’s crop of candidates offers some hope that things might change.
By Ray Hanania
As a former Chicagoan and now suburban resident, I find myself, for the very first time, envious of Chicago voters. They have 14 candidates, almost all of who are great choices to run the City of Chicago.
It used to be like that in the suburbs, but I guess all the Chicago flight not only filled the suburbs with families struggling to escape what used to be Chicago’s daily muck and grind, but it also brought a lot of that muck and grind with. Some of the elections in the suburbs are among the worst, filled with lies, half-truths and distortions.
There is nothing wrong with criticizing your opponent, though. That’s needed to help separate the “better” candidates from the “worst” or the “not so good.”
Chicago’s elections directly impact the lives of suburbanites, so it is important to us, too. Chicago often grabs the money that suburbanites pay in taxes to cover the enormous debts that past administrations have accumulated, and all the waste that has drowned the city not only in poor services, poor education and unsafe neighborhoods. Yes, suburbanites are often forced to help Chicago dig itself out of the hole it dug itself in over many years of political corruption, cronyism and poor leadership.
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But in reviewing the 14 people who are seeking to succeed the kind of cronyism and poor leadership, outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel — please don’t let the door (as in smoke-filled closed door rooms) hit your ass on the way out, Mayor — it’s clear Chicago voters have the best crop of choices they have ever had in a century.
Only two of the 14 candidates will go on to the final General Election on April 2 — the top two candidates run-off if no one gets 50 percent plus 1 vote in today’s (Feb. 26, 2019) consolidated open primary election.
The top of the pile includes Bill Daley, the son and brother of former Mayor’s Richard J. and Richard M. Bill Daley has a phenomenal slogan for his campaign. “No More Excuses. “Although I don’t like his banking background, Bill Daley can bring to City Hall a brilliance that if applied correctly could help shovel Chicago out of its pile of mess that it’s in. He’s smart, bright and he certainly comes from a family dynasty that loves this city.
I understand the fear that many voters have of another dynasty taking over. “Dynasty” is just another word for “Machine.” I know Bill Daley and have covered the Daley family and their politics for years. There have been some ups and some downs. The Daley’s are great when they are out of office, but they tend to get dragged in (sometimes willingly) to Machine politics. But there is always hope that things will change.
Gery Chico, who has been at this game before, too, and has run a spectacular campaign. His slogan “Let’s Go Get the City We Want” is a call to action like no other call to action before. Chico has hammered away in a real way against the tendency of government to throw more taxes atop the pile of wasted spending. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire. It just makes it worse.
The answer to Chicago’s problems isn’t slamming taxpayers for more money, but to take what tyou have and put the value back in the services. Make public services efficient. Clean out the waste. Open government and be honest. Speak to the people and communicate more. Get the public involved in helping to make the city safer and confronting street gang violence — homeowners need to become squealers, squealing on the drug dealers and gangbangers who live in their neighborhoods.
Lori Lightfoot is a real smart candidate. Why would someone so smart want to get into politics? She’s done well for herself as an attorney and maybe she can bring that intelligent aspect to governance. Her campaign has been a dialogue with voters, something that rarely happens. Too often, candidates, especially in the past, speak down to voters and the public, like we are stupid or something. Her campaign slogan, with a pun on her own name, is “It’s Time to Bring in the Light.”
The truth is, you can’t really pull the wool over the eyes of the public. They have a collective intelligence that sees through the lies and BS.
Bob Fioretti is another promising hopeful. Fioretti is genuinely sincere about wanting to do the right thing for Chicago and he has managed to become a real contender in this election. Fioretti tried to stand up to the shenanigans of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (who also is a candidate I’ll speak about soon). Fioretti has a great slogan, too. “Are you Ready for Fioretti?” And the answer from his commercials, “I am ready for Fioretti.” The name just rolls off the fundamental nature that good people have, to always have hope. Fiortetti would be a great mayor, too.
Another good choice representing a younger generation is Jerry Joyce. His father is a longtime 19th Ward politician and former State Senator, probably one of the smartest politicians who ever lived. The younger Joyce offers one of the most diverse family backgrounds which is what Chicago really needs. He sees no racial boundaries. You see it in his family. He went to Marist High school and graduated from Yale where he also played football. His wife, Jannine, is a pediatrician at the University of Chicago Hospital.
Joyce’s slogan is just straight and simple to understand. A statement of intent, maybe a mission statement like the one written by “Jerry McGuire” in the movie of the same name. “The People of Chicago are Entitled to a New, Honest, and Open Government.”
Former educator Paul Vallas is no stranger to Chicago either and comes from a great family of public servants. His father-in-law is the former Mayor of Palos Heights, Dean Kholdenhoven, another great and inspiring person. His background in education would be a great asset to the city’s failing education system. Maybe he can help lift it back up. His slogan sounds more like the declaration made by Former President Franklin Deano Roosevelt’s memorable challenge to the American people during his first inauguration speech, “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself.” Vallas’ campaign slogan is “There’s Nothing Chicago Politicians Fear more than This Broom,” referring to the change he vows to bring with him if elected.
Garry McCarthy also brings something unique to the table, his experience fighting crime under an overlord mayor who always got in the way. McCarthy was a great Police Chief stymied by politicians who use crime and killings as platforms to pretend like they are compassion and care. Most of them don’t. But as a former Cop, McCarthy is probably the only candidate with the know-how to confront and defeat Chicago’s rising crime problem. His slogan speaks precisely to that need. “Make Chicago Safe Again.” The liberal news media that panders to racism didn’t stop itself from trying to tie that slogan to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mantra in order to hurt him.
There are many great candidates in this race. I’m not a big fan of candidates who lie or break promises as Toni Preckwinkle has done repeatedly. She opposed the sales tax when running for office, and then turned around and raised the sale tax when she was in office. Her only solution to Cook County’s problems has been to exclude suburbanites from her concerns and to punish suburbanites with higher taxes to pay for Chicago’s problems. Preckwinkle’s slogan is “Want a Mayor Who Will Fight for You?” is a challenge question. The answer is Yes. Do you know one Toni?
The most pathetic aspect of Preckwinkle’s campaign was how she didn’t hesitate to use race to appeal to voters, claiming that she exposed the facts in the Laquan McDonald killing, much the same way former Vice President Al Gore invented the Internet. The nightmare she represents if elected is frightening.
Susana Mendoza kicked off her campaign with the wrong message. Playing soccer. For many of us, soccer is just a game, a sport. It’s entertaining and too many athletes make waaaay too much money. It’s a career for the privileged that the rest of us simple little people watch to find some occasional enjoyment. Sports is cutthroat and it has its problems of racism, sexual harassment, gambling, and drugs. So I think that was a bad move on her part. Maybe she should try out for the Chicago Fire soccer team instead of running for mayor. But finally, in the last week of the election campaign, she found someone with some common sense and they put together a new campaign commercial that really speaks to the voters. It may be too late to save her, or the city, but it works. Her slogan is “The Future Starts Now.” How appropriate that is for her?
I just don’t know enough about the other candidates to comment on them. But they include Amara Enyia, Willie Wilson, La Shawn Ford, and the youngest candidate, John Kozlar.
Good luck Chicago. The suburbs are praying you make the right choice.
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.
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