Amid fanfare and controversy, Rahm Emanuel made a big campaign announcement Saturday in North Lawndale. Although it was no secret, Rahm announced he was officially kicking off his re-election campaign.
In a move symbolic of Rahm's vision for Chicago, the kick-off event was held at Cinespace in the West Side's North Lawndale neighborhood. Cinespace is a TV and film studio that has been used to film "Chicago PD," "Chicago Fire" and several movies.
In an appeal to the middle class, Rahm said, "Our economy is finally growing again after the depths of the Great Recession. But let's be hoest, its benefits are not being shared equally. If we are to be the city we want to be and can be, this must change."
Rahm touched on some of his previous successes, including the minimum wage increase and the Red Line reconstruction project, as well as some touchier subjects, like education. He listed off some new plans for Chicago's kids, including a scholarship program for CPS teachers to attend community college for free and a promise that by next year every 4-year-old in need will be able to attend pre-Kindergarten for free.
"We're telling every child in a CPS school that if you study hard and keep your part of the bargain, we'll make sure you have the opportunity for the higher education that you have earned and that you deserve," he said in his speech.
At the end of his speech, Rahm drew several comparisons between what he called the "old Chicago" and the "new Chicago."
"In the old Chicago, you got a job based on who you know. In the new Chicago, you get a job based on what you know," he said.
"In the old Chicago, there were hundreds of police officers sitting behind a desk. In the new Chicago, those officers are now behind the wheel -- and the handlebars -- patrolling our neighborhood streets."
Rahm's speech and announcement did not wow everyone, however. Prior to the announcement, some aldermen told NBC Chicago they were not planning on attending.
And Rahm's opponents had their own statements to make about the event.
"The mayor's policies have created two Chicagoans, and no amount of campaign cash or TV ads can change that fact," mayoral challenger Ald. Bob Fioretti said. "Chicagoans want a new direction and are ready for a vision of safe streets and strong neighborhoods."