Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Listen Up, Chicago

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rahm Emanuel began a citywide listening tour Monday morning to help set up his bid for the mayor's job, and already he's encountering static.

    Along one of his first stops in Pilsen, the dense Latino neighborhood on the city's southwest side, a group of frustrated parents who've been sleeping in a dilapitaded field house surround his car asking for answers to why their community center is being torn down.

    Some of the residents were holding signs saying "Rahm is no friend to Latinos."

    The stop is clearly designed to amp up interest among Latino voters, a group that makes up 20 percent of the Chicago electorate. Emanuel has negatives among this group, according to Hoy Newspaper, because he's seen as an obstacle to immigration reform and the Dream Act.

    Prior to heading over to Pilsen, Emanuel tried shaking hands at CTA bus stops near Roosevelt Road and State Street, where he had mixed results.

    Jose Gonzalez, a Chicago police officer asks Emanuel to sign his shirt and says "we need his leadership."

    "I know he's a good politician," said Frederick Childress, a 58-year-old retired Chicago Housing Authority employee on the South Side who plans to vote for Emanuel. "He was a good White House chief of staff. He's for the people."

    Others weren't as kind.

    One man called Emanuel a political "fixer" who "sold out" liberal Democrats when he joined Obama's administration.

    While Emanuel soft launches his campaign with the "listening tour," potential opponents are already hitting him hard on a number of issues.

    The former White House Chief of Staff could be closely linked to not only his former boss, President Obama, during the election, but also his former predecessor in Congress, Rod Blagojevich. Emanuel's name is sure to come up in Blagojevich's second corruption trial, which is timed to coincide neatly with the Chicago Mayoral elections.

    Emanuel faces a more immediate problem, however. Many opponents say he's not a legal resident of Chicago since he hasn't lived in the city for years.

    Election lawyer Burt Odelson says Emanuel has a problem getting on the ballot. 

    Odelson says "the law back since 1871" states you must live in your residence for one year. He does not agree with the Chicago Bd of Elections' Langdon Neale who says it's all about intent.  Odelson notes that Tom Dart told the Washinton Post Emanuel has not lived in Chicago for much of the last 16 years.