Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Mayoral Hopefuls Remind Rahm He's Not the Only One

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Mayoral candidate Gery Chico says Rahm Emanuel may have the name recognition, but not the record to be the best mayor of Chicago.

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Chico: I Have the Best Record of Public Service

Mayoral candidate Gery Chico rattles off several of his accomplishments from over the last 20 years.

We Didn't Get Those Jobs, Rahm

A voter confronts Rahm Emanuel during his listening tour on the South side, arguing that the black community hasn't received any jobs from Washington.
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Mayoral hopeful Gery Chico can claim a unique distinction: Rod Blagojevich declared on tape, that he was qualified to be a U.S. Senator, and that he would not cut a deal.

That ringing endorsement came as the FBI listened in, December 4 of 2008.

"Gery Chico's the best pick," Blagojevich told advisors. "But Gery does nothing for me. Politically, or governmentally."

"I'll take that," Chico said Monday. "Obviously I didn't fit into those political calculations, and I'm OK. I was not involved in dealmaking of any kind for a senate seat. I don't believe in that!"

While Chico himself did not appear on any recordings played during Blagojevich's three month trial, his rival in the race for Mayor, Rahm Emanuel reportedly was captured on tape, although none of those conversations were played for the Blagojevich jury.

Emanuel has been hesitant to talk publicly about the Senate episode, and Chico maintains such an exploration of the facts is long overdue.

"I think the voters are entitled to know what the full nature of those discussions were," he said. "I'm not implying that there was anything wrong there. But we're entitled to know."

At a time when Emanuel says he is "listening to the voters" in preparation for a run for mayor, other candidates seemed to be hoping Monday that he would remember there really is going to be an election.

"I don't have to do a listening tour to find out what's wrong with the City of Chicago," declared state senator Rickey Hendon.

Hendon had called reporters together to discuss a short-on-details plan to re-open Meigs Field, but the questions quickly devolved into the senator's new high profile opponent.

"If what's in the paper is true, he has a problem," Hendon said. "I will not challenge his residency. I will not challenge his petitions. But I know others will."

Across town, Sheriff Tom Dart was showing off a new laundry program at Cook County Jail, designed to save the county taxpayers millions by having the inmates do their own wash. After a few questions about the program, Dart quickly found himself asked about the man many believe would be his most formidable opponent in a race for mayor.

"I don't think there's anything about anything he's been doing that's surprised anybody I know," Dart said.

The sheriff has not formally entered the race, but promised a decision was coming soon.

"My family and I have talked about it a great deal, and I've talked to a lot of supporters who have been encouraging," he said.

Dart said he was concentrating on a number of his own questions, including what was best for his family, "making sure I'd be good at the job, and then making sure it's something I could win."

Ironically, it is Chico, perhaps, who has the most similar political pedigree to Emanuel. Both came up in politics at the right hand of mayor Richard Daley. But Chico points to a career of public service in Chicago, during decades in which Emanuel decamped to Washington, D.C.

"You know, Rahm's on a listening tour," Chico said Monday. "We've been on a doing tour!"

Noting his background as president of the Board of Education, the Chicago Park District and, most recently, as Chairman of the Board of the City Colleges of Chicago, Chico said, "I think people are tired of the promises and 'I'm gonna gonna.' I think they want to know what you've done."

"They want to know you've been in the trenches for 20 years as a public servant, fighting for the issues that matter to them. I've done that."

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