Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel used a late Tuesday morning visit to a South Side field office to call voters and remind them of two initiatives he aims to accomplish if he's granted a second term.
"This time next year, every veteran will have a shelter over their head," he told volunteers at his 8th Ward field office, on the 8500 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue. "No veteran will ever call Lower Wacker [Drive] home again in Chicago. They will always have a roof here."
It was last October, during a ribbon cutting at the Hope Manor II Apartments in Englewood, that Emanuel echoed a pledge to end veteran homelessness that had been previously made by his former boss, President Barack Obama. That was on the heels of a $5 million partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Chicago Housing Authority, announced a month earlier.
But veterans weren't the only constituency the mayor said he'd like to help in a second term. As voters head to the polls, some with the 2013 school closures in mind, Emanuel turned his remarks to Chicago students and reiterated a promise he made last fall.
"We're going to make the decisions necessary to give them a bright future, to make sure that every child has the potential to achieve their dreams. ... If you earn a B average, community college is going to be free," he said.
Emanuel will automatically earn a second term Tuesday night if election returns show him with 50 percent-plus one vote. Any fewer and the mayoral race will extend to an April 7 runoff with his nearest challenger.
A final poll out Monday showed Emanuel falling just short of the threshold, with 48 percent of the support of respondents. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia had the second-highest level of support, the poll showed.
There has never been a runoff in a Chicago mayoral election. The process was changed in 1999 from a primary and general election in an effort to save money.
"We've got opportunities ahead of us," Emanuel told volunteers before urging them back to the phones. "We've got challenges. We have to have both the strength and the solutions to meet them head on to continue to build a great city."