Rahm Emanuel

Expert: Process of Recalling Mayor Is ‘Not a Quick Possibility'

State Rep. LaShawn Ford filed a bill that would allow for the recall of Mayor Rahm Emanuel if it pass the House and Senate and is signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner

Critics of Mayor Rahm Emanuel have turned to Springfield in the hopes of recalling the mayor, but political experts say getting Emanuel out of the office with a piece of legislation is a long shot.

Activists with the Coalition for a New Chicago stood outside the mayor's office Thursday for a press conference urging support for House Bill 4356. The bill, filed by State Rep. LaShawn Ford the day before, would allow a recall election to occur if it passes the House and Senate and is signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The activists at City Hall, led by the coalition's founder Gregory Livingston, pledged to bring "a million signatures" to Springfield in January along with "bus loads of people." 

"We're looking for real leadership that recognizes that the leadership from the executive branch is not happening and the citizens of Chicago need a change," Livingston said.

Political science professor and former alderman Dick Simpson said the process of recalling a mayor would not be easy, however. In addition to getting the bill to pass in the House and Senate, it also needs signatures of support from at least 85,000 Chicago voters as well as the support of two city aldermen.

"It's not a quick possibility," Simpson said. "First of all, I don't think the recall legislation will pass in Springfield. If it does pass, it wouldn't pass until about June." 

Despite the growing criticism of the mayor, Simpson said he is not sure Emanuel has done anything that would actually warrant his removal from office. In order to be forced out of office, there would need to be evidence showing that Emanuel was involved in a cover-up, Simpson said.

"If it showed an email saying 'let's hold this (the Laquan McDonald video) up until after the election,' then that could conceivably be impeachable," Simpson said.

The recall legislation does not call for Emanuel to be impeached. Instead it only indicates the residents of Chicago are unhappy with the mayor.

After delivering an emotional apology in front of the City Council Wednesday, Emanuel stayed out of the public eye Thursday. He was scheduled to attend a veterans event, but Deputy Mayor Steve Koch filled in for him instead.

A spokesperson for Emanuel did release a statement Thursday, however, in response to the recall legislation, saying the mayor is "energized" by the challenges in front of him.

"We understand there's a desire by some to insert politics into this discussion, but the mayor's focus is not on his own personal politics," Adam Collins, a spokesperson for the mayor, said. "His focus is on the residents of this city and finally and fully addressing the issue of police accountability, which has challenged Chicago for decades. He is energized by the challenge in front of us, and committed to driving real solutions for our city."

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