We gather two journalists and an accomplished politician at the table this week for conversation about Chicago’s dramatic mayoral race, the Jason Van Dyke trial and the police reform consent decree.
We ask who among the candidates that we currently know of would be ready to assume office “on day one”, meaning that they bring to office a breadth of knowledge about the city’s problems and potential solutions, and possess an adequate managerial experience that they could take off quickly. (We didn’t include Bill Daley in the discussion because he announced his intention to run minutes after we left the studio.)
The Daily Line‘s City Hall reporter A.D.Quig leads off. “I think Toni Preckwinkle would be ready,” she tells us. “She’s run an executive office for eight years. I think Chuy Garcia, knowing what he learned after the last election. He’s also had a raised profile both on the Cook County Board and in politics nationally. I know Paul Vallas believes he’d be ready on Day One.”
Miguel Del Valle ran for mayor in 2011. He came in third, behind Chuy Garcia and Rahm Emanuel. He’s also been City Clerk for two terms and a State Senator for about twenty years. He favors his old friend and former competitor Garcia.
“Chuy Garcia is a good friend of mine,” he says. “I think he’d make a good mayor. But in the last campaign I said to to Chuy after it was over, you needed to put people in place who are going to give you really solid advice on city finances, for example. I think that was a weak spot in his past campaign. If that repeats itself he’ll have a difficult time again. I think with the right people and the right resources he can put together a message that is clear and will win over voters and win their confidence because that right now is one of the biggest issues, besides the violence in the neighborhoods.”
“I would say ‘ready on day one’, that we would not be able to discount and count out Willie Wilson,” asserts Sun-Times Assistant Editor for Audience Engagement Kathy Chaney. “We have to think about his business acumen. He is self-made. He’s not self-made like one of the Jenner kids, but he’s actually a self-made millionaire…He may still have to have a good team around him but, business-wise, fiscally, I think he would be ready on day one to walk in.”
We ask if it’s possible that the “big three” racial camps – blacks, Latinos and whites – might be diminishing in terms of their monolithic political power. is it possible, we ask, that nobody can capture “the Latino” vote or the white of African American “vote” any more? Chaney says there’s a generational shift in the works that could change everything.
“I don’t think that we can discount the Generation Z and Millennial voters because I think they’ll be a huge factor in this – your black and your Hispanic,” She explains. “I think that they are more conscious now and they’re becoming more aware of the issues. And you’ve got high profile Millennials and Gen Z – You’ve got Chance the Rapper who’s very vocal and mobilizing his base and others that are around him. You’ve got Ja’Mal Green with his activist base and I think they will be a huge deciding factor for this mayoral race and just for voting, period.”
But Garcia says the entrenched power base isn’t going anywhere. “The folks who work downtown and live on Lake Shore Drive and who live in Wrigleyville and Streeterville, those are the folks that are voting their pocketbooks. They’re the ones who helped put Emanuel in office. He was their mayor. And they want to see continued downtown development. Yes, they’re concerned about violence, but they want a good fiscal manager in that spot because it affects their pocketbook.”
Quig brings the discussion back to media and its role in helping select our next Mayor. “Talking about the media problem of covering everyone who’s in or out, this was already a brace with fifteen people in it, which makes it very hard to talk about the issues because the horse-race aspect of it is so compelling to read that we don’t know what everyone’s plans for property axes are. We don’t know what everyone’e plans for school are, we don’t know everyone’s plans for public safety. And now, it’s only worse because of the twenty other “maybes” that we have to cover.”
We talk at some length about the police reform consent decree, and the fact that Rahm Emanuel and Lisa Madigan had been unable to come to agreement on a provision that police officers must file a report every time they point their gun at anyone. Emanuel had opposed it, but two days after announcing he wouldn’t run, he changed his position, supporting the measure. Del Valle says not running again frees politicians to do the things that an upcoming election prevents them from doing.
“In terms of being freed up by not running for office, I’m not so sure we’d have a consent decree if Lisa Madigan was running for re-election, and if Rahm Emanuel was running for re-election. In both cases, I think they were both unleashed to do the right thing,” he asserts.
Oh, and Miguel Del Valle had a major announcement to make, and he broke the news on Chicago Newsroom.
“I want to announce today that I will not be having a press conference to announce that I am not running for mayor.”
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