Chicago Elects Its Mayor: Will it be Rahm Emanuel?

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Today’s election for the Mayor of Chicago will change the politics in this city forever.  It is the first time in history that there is not an Irish American candidate running for office.  Chicago has had a long line of south side Irish Catholics, from Richard M Daley, Richard J. Daley and Jayne Byrne who had defined Chicago politics. 


For the most part Chicago has been a well-run city, until the past few years when Mayor Daley started to make bad decisions when he sold the city parking meter contract for millions of dollars to an outside vendor, spent money the city didn’t have trying to attract the Olympics and has run up the city deficit to one of the highest levels in history.  I like Mayor Daley and thank him for his many years of service, but it is time for him to turn over the rein to someone who is prepared to deal with the escalating costs in running the City, along with the union workers whose pensions are crippling the city budget.


This “open election” has brought out candidates representative from all races that comprise the delicate balance in Chicago.  Carol Moseley Braun, William Walls, and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins all  Afro-American candidate’s are vying for another chance at the city having a black mayor since Mayor Harold Washington was in office in the 80’s when Jayne and Richard Daley went head-head and split the vote. Gerry Chico and Miguel Del Valle are both Latin and are seeking heavy support from the Hispanic voters.


The frontrunner and pal of President Obama is Rahm Emanuel who is hoping to get at least 50% plus one vote, so he doesn’t have to enter into an April run-off election.  This guy is like the “energizer bunny”, who even after being attacked by other candidates and the Illinois court system for not being an Illinois resident which would have taken him off the ballot, keeps on going.  He is as graceful as bird and a former dancer.  Calm and collected during the court hearings, he stayed with his message that he was indeed a resident of Illinois and deserved to run for mayor.


If elected to the Mayoral position Rahm pledges to lift a $4/mo. employee head tax for employers, modernize the Regional Port District, overhaul job training programs ( I greatly support this), streamline business regulation, establish a technology campus ( Also, a great idea in my opinion), and create $15 million funds to assist businesses.


So what will Rahm do to deal with the taxes and an out of control budget?  Rahm proposes to cut city spending by $75 million in 2011.  He has outlined $500 million in further cuts.  He would reduce the sales tax by .25%, but broaden the base to include luxury services and reform natural gas tax to better match actual use.


The biggest controversy in his campaign is his stance on city pensions which has government employees, the aldermen that promise workers jobs and local union nervous about what he will do if he is elected mayor of Chicago.  Rahm considers the city’s current pension system “dishonest” and “unsustainable.  To avoid a 90% property tax increase that the city residents can ill-afford, he is says he will work with unions to forge a share-the-pain compromise.  He warned that benefits must be cut for existing employees.


Whoever you support today, just get out there and vote!  Election officials anticipate a low voter turn-out which surprises since so much is at stake in this city.  Taxes, security, schools and the general cost to live and do business in this city are at stake.  It’s time for change in this town, not the same old structure that is about to go up in flames! 


Okay, you didn’t ask, but yes, I am voting for Rahm Emanuel.  I believe he has the conviction and determination to face the tough issues in Chicago.  My first choice would be, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, but he can’t run in Chicago because he’s not a resident!  We can only hope that Rahm does as good of a job as Bloomberg has done for NYC!


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