[dropcap]M[/dropcap]onday night Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García announced his candidacy for mayor of Chicago.
“Since [Chicago Teachers Union President] Karen Lewis took ill and was unable to make a run for mayor I began getting a rash of calls from all parts of the city, across ethnicities, and race and faith,” García told EXTRA. “People asking me to seriously consider running.”
He said that in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s four years in office his administration hasn’t been receptive or taken the time to listen to problems from Chicago’s less affluent neighborhoods. Examples he gave were the widespread public school closings, Chicago’s violent crime and the city’s looming pension woes.
“I felt that it’s very important that someone who’s been a product of Chicago’s neighborhoods puts forth a platform that helps our neighborhoods,” said García.
He said the city’s reliance on police overtime isn’t only costly, but also unhealthy for officers expected to risk their lives protecting citizens while being overworked. And regarding pensions, García said the state and city got into its current problems by deferring payments into the pension accounts for a long time.
“But one potential solution is the city’s Tax Increment Finance program,” said García. “It’s been kept under wraps by the mayor and I think it’s used too frequently by the person sitting on the fifth floor on pet projects for the mayor’s friends.”
In 1986, García was elected to the Chicago City Council as alderman of the 22nd Ward. During his tenure there he was a supporter of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1992 he became the first-ever Mexican-American elected to the Illinois Senate where he served two terms before losing a 1998 election to Tony Munoz, a candidate backed by the Hispanic Democratic Organization allied with then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.
After losing the election he founded Enlace Chicago, a non-profit community development organization in Little Village, and was granted a fellowship from his alma mater DePaul University, where he taught courses in political science as an Adjunct Professor.
In 2010, García returned to politics and was elected Cook County commissioner of the 7th District.
Asked about the new challenger after García confirmed his intention to run, Emanuel told reporters anyone is welcome to run and that he’s focused on solving the city’s challenges.
Meanwhile Alderman and Mayoral Candidate Bob Fioretti said he welcomed Garcia to the race.
“I look forward to a spirited debate about the issues,” said Fioretti in a written statement.
Garcia’s announcement comes after County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Lewis both decided not to run in next year’s mayoral race.
García needs to secure 12,500 signatures by Nov. 24 to get his name on the February ballot. At press time the Hispanic candidate had $3,160 in his campaign fund. To date, Fioretti’s been able to raise $27,000 while Emanuel has raised nearly $8.7 million towards his reelection.
Other mayoral candidates next year include Frederick Collins, a Chicago police officer; Amara Enyia, an urban affairs consultant; William J. Kelly, a political activist and columnist; Robert Shaw, a former Chicago alderman and former Cook County commissioner; and William “Dock” Walls, community activist and former aide to Mayor Harold Washington.
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