The feds did Chicago voters a favor by charging Ald. Ed Burke with attempted extortion before the February 26 mayoral primary.
It helps us eliminate candidates in a congested race. Now I feel okay about ruling out four top candidates, those with ties to Burke: Toni Preckwinkle, Susana Mendoza, Gery Chico, and Bill Daley.
Burke hosted a fundraiser for Preckwinkle’s county board reelection campaign and strong-armed a $100,000 donation that she says she returned. His son was hired for a county job with a $100,000 salary. (Who says patronage has ended?)
Mendoza was married at Burke’s home. Now she’s dishonestly trying to disown the man she had called her political mentor.
As a young man Chico was a researcher for Burke’s City Council Finance Committee. He has Burke’s endorsement in this election, as he did the last time he ran for mayor in 2011.
Daleys come from the same “Chicago Way” circles as Burke. According to the Chicago Tribune, Burke has made at least $30,000 in contributions to Daley family political funds over the years.
In case ties to Burke weren’t enough, I consider the four opportunists — none of them entered the race until after Rahm Emanuel announced he wouldn’t run for a third term.
With those four gone, the only candidates I consider viable are Paul Vallas and Lori Lightfoot.
“If this campaign were about who has the most well thought-out platform, Vallas would win easily,” Chicago magazine said in December. I like Vallas’s thoroughness about the issues. A background as former Chicago budget director and CEO of Chicago Public Schools and three other urban school districts equips him to deal with the city’s financial problems. That same Chicago magazine piece, published before the Burke revelations, had Vallas running third after Preckwinkle and Mendoza, so I figure he has a good chance now that they’re damaged goods.
Lightfoot, a lawyer who was chair of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force and president of the Chicago Police Board, among other roles, is smart, articulate, and progressive. I don’t have any hesitation about her except that I’d like my vote to go to a front-runner.
Even though he’s another white male, I’m leaning toward Vallas but still need to investigate the candidates’ stances on issues.
Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention, but campaign news coverage seemed short on policy until there was a rush of anticorruption proposals following the Burke news. We’re only six weeks from the primary, and I know few specifics about how each candidate would deal with the pension funding crisis, gun violence, crime, public schools, police reform, and poverty.
As I seek places besides their own websites to learn about the candidates, here are some sites that look helpful:
* The Chicago Sun-Times’ voting guide to the election is comprehensive, linking to each candidate's answers to a Sun-Times questionnaire; news about the candidate; and the campaign website and Facebook and Twitter pages. Also from the Sun-Times, a chart summarizes each candidate’s thoughts about ways Chicago might raise money.
• Coming up this week are candidate meetings with the Chicago Tribune editorial board. The group of 15 has been separated into three sessions on Tuesday (10:30 a.m.), Wednesday (10 a.m.), and Thursday (1 p.m.). Watch live at facebook.com/chicagotribune.
• WGN’s January 10 mayoral forum can be viewed online. In case you’re still considering Preckwinkle, you should know that she skipped the forum.
• Ballotpedia has links to other debates and forums; scroll down to find them.
It’s unlikely that anyone will get a majority of votes and win outright in February. Without a majority, the two highest vote-getters in the primary will go on to the April 2 runoff election.
ANTI-TRUMP QUOTATIONS: 46th IN AN ONGOING SERIES
“[E]ven in the earliest days of the Trump administration, the president’s behavior was so erratic and so concerning that the FBI felt compelled to do the unprecedented — open a counterintelligence investigation into a sitting president and his possible cooptation by a hostile foreign government.”
— Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announcing that his committee will investigate Trump’s behavior regarding Russia