Why I support Toni Preckwinkle for Chicago Mayor
In politics, it’s rarely about who is great but rather about who is better. And in the race for Chicago Mayor between Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former prosecutor Lori Lightfoot, the “better” candidate is Preckwinkle. Although I have some issues with her past policies, I have more fears about Lightfoot’s future policies based on some of the people she is hanging around with. Both are “Machine” candidates in their own way but Preckwinkle offers a better chance that things will be done right
By Ray Hanania
There are no “great” candidates in political elections. There is only the relative spectrum of who is “better” and who is “worse.”
It’s all relative. Politics is as much about who you don’t like as it is about who you like. It’s about your own personal consensus, who comes closest to representing as much of what you believe.
Having covered Chicagoland politics nearly a half century, I have set the “spectrum analysis meter” at 65 to 75 percent. If a candidate reflects 65 to 75 percent of what I believe, that works for me. No one will ever be 100 percent. That’s why I support Toni Preckwinkle over Lori Lightfoot for Chicago mayor. Preckwinkle is one of the best candidates.
Preckwinkle may be a “Machine” candidate, but so is Lightfoot. In the context of “political relativity,” and despite some issues, Preckwinkle better reflects my concerns than Lightfoot ever will. I don’t like extremists and radicals, especially those who are endorsing and supporting Lightfoot.
For me, politics is the ONLY sport. And like a sport, you play the game with intensity and try to win. I don’t hate the Green Bay Packers. I just love to see the Chicago Bears win. Why? I really don’t know. What have the Bears ever done for me? I can have differences with Preckwinkle, however, and not throw the baby out with the bath water. And maybe Preckwinkle has learned that people she has allied herself with in the past are not people she can count on.
Preckwinkle has been in office for years and has a public record. It’s easy for me to pick out several things she has done that I don’t like. And many things she has done that I do like.
Lightfoot is a very wealthy former prosecutor who I know absolutely nothing about. She doesn’t have a record because she never held office before. So how do I judge her? She worked as a Chicago Machine bureaucrat for most of her life appointed by Chicago Mayors to oversee the Police Board, procurement, emergency services, and was a litigation attorney for Mayor Brown LLP, a law firm that is as close to the “Machine” as any could be.
A lot of police say they prefer Lightfoot over Preckwinkle, especially over Preckwinkle’s comments about the Laquan McDonald shooting. The truth is that Lightfoot has a sketchy record when it comes to concerns for police and theyneed to worry, not just about that sketchy record but about the anti-police fanatics who have surrounded Lightfoot’s campaign.
Lightfoot concerns me. But it’s the people who have glommed on to her that bother me the most. I know them all. They are a rabble of extremists and radical leftists who have railed against the “Machine” for years while building their own political machine. They’re hypocrites who denounce the Machine and yet do the same thing.
Does anyone think that former Mayor Harold Washington didn’t play politics the way the people he criticized played politics? Or that David Orr, the Che Guevara of Cook County Politics, hasn’t engaged in “Machine” politics of his own?
I saw Lightfoot hanging tight with the same extremists who before the election were patting Preckwinkle on the back when they needed her to destroy Brannigan to takeover suburban politics. They’re called “Our Revolution.” Their tactics of screaming and bullying are radically different from my own.
They stood by Preckwinkle when it suited them, and then threw Preckwinkle under the bus when they got what they wanted. I hope that opens Preckwinkle’s eyes.
“Radical” politics scares me far more than the “Machine” politics. The radicals are the biggest hypocrites asserting that they support reforms but what they really means is reforms that take power for themselves. These were the same radicals who attacked Sean Morrison and Sharon Brannigan in Palos Township using Preckwinkle, and who are fueling the “hate for political benefit” formula. Lightfoot will be worse when it comes to empowering the radicals like that group of haters, most of whom don’t even live in Palos Township at all and are there purey for selfish political reasons.
Lightfoot has criticized Alderman Edward M. Burke who, despite one Federal accusation, has proudly led the people of the 14th Ward. I like Burke. He’s a brilliant politician, probably one of the best I met while covering Chicago City Hall. Most importantly, you’re innocent until proven guilty, not before. And when you put Burke on the balance, the good he has done far outweighs any of the unproven allegations. After what happened with the Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s intervention to protect hoaxter Jussie Smollet of the FOX TV Empire program, you have to wonder how Foxx’s conduct is anywhere worse than anything Burke may have been accused of doing.
When Lightfoot was a federal prosecutor 20 years ago, she was reprimanded for “professional misconduct” and accused of misleading another judge in a botched extradition case and abusing her powers. When she headed the police board she didn’t hesitate to pander to racial politics.
Most offensive is how the radicals around Lightfoot are slamming Preckwinkle, asserting Preckwinkle mentioned Lightfoot’s sexual orientation intentionally because the powerful African American religious leaders oppose that Lifestyle. That is a cheapshot attack against Preckwinkle. You can’t go around promoting yourself as a Gay LGBT advocate and then try to take offense when someone acknowledges it!
Why is it ok for Gays to make their lifestyle a political issue when it suits them, but scream “hate” when others brings it up? No one should be persecuted for race, religion, beliefs, or sexual orientation. But does it mean I must embrace it?
To me, the biggest issue in politics is hypocrisy, people who claim to be better than others when they are absolutely the same. Lightfoot is the bigger hypocrite because she is raking in cash faster than a slumlord. She’s standing with a bunch of extremists like Orr, “Chuy” Garcia and the “Our Revolution” comrades. And she has a questionable past she hasn’t addressed. The group has damage the candidacy of Abdelnasser Rashid who has a brilliant future if he can move more into the mainstream, which I believe he will eventually do. He is smart and has a great future.
If you want to put Chicago in the hands of a bunch of radicals, go right ahead. But don’t think for a moment they won’t raise taxes, hire their pals, give contracts to cronies, perks to donors, or are not a “Machine.”
And by giving Preckwinkle another chance to do good as Chicago Mayor, her election opens th edoor to some change at the Cook County Board where hopefully someone like Cook County Commissioner John Daley might become her successor there.
I like Lightfoot but I dislike the people around her. That’s why Preckwinkle is clearly the better choice.
(Ray Hanania covered Chicago City Hall from 1977 through 1992. Visit www.Hanania.com to listen to “Ray Hanania on Politics” podcast. Email him at email@example.com. A version of this column also ran in syndication in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional Newspaper and the Reporter newspapers, among many other.)