Election Series: Mayoral candidate platforms

By Heather McGraw

As city elections draw near, many voters find it difficult to stay informed on the mayoral candidates’ platforms.

In a poll conducted by the Chicago Tribune and WGN released on Feb. 10, the top four candidates in the race are former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, with 49 percent; attorney Gery Chico, with 14 percent; Carol Moseley Braun, founder of Ambassador Organics, with 10 percent; and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, with 8 percent.

After coverage on the issues of Emanuel’s residency, defamatory statements made by Braun and the exclusion of Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William Walls from the first televised debate, the media has had little time to focus on where the candidates stand on different issues.

The race for mayor was filled with many bumps in the road. For a lot of residents, focus on political rhetoric has clouded the true issues facing the city and how the candidates plan to solve them.

Eric Berggren, 54, of Lakeview, teaches adult education at a community center in Albany Park. He said the mainstream media is not reporting in the best interests of residents.

“[The media] themselves are corporate entities, and they have a stake in the system so they don’t give out all the information,” Berggren said.

Rodney Wilson, 35, of Chatham, a technical support specialist at Cision, a PR company in the South Loop, also said he feels it is the media’s responsibility to inform voters on the candidates.

“No one is really talking about the candidates’ platforms,” Wilson said.

With citizens already casting ballots, access to the candidates’ plans for the city could lead to more resident input on the city’s future.

According to the Chicago Board of Elections website, early voting started on Jan. 31, and a polling place is now available in each of the 50 wards.

The Chronicle gathered information from the top four candidates’ websites regarding their solutions to some of the troubling issues facing Chicago.

EDUCATION

•Chico’s education platforms include stressing parent involvement, creating tighter restrictions on teacher certification and standards and lengthening the school year from 176 to 200 days. He also wants a tougher stance on bullying and to fix the lack of discipline. Chico would also like more focus on arts, sports and foreign language programs.

•Del Valle wants to focus on ensuring every child has access to high-quality education from early childhood on to narrow achievement gaps for low-income or minority students. He also wants low-performing neighborhoods to have community learning centers at their schools. He hopes to develop a partnership between Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago to create dual

credit opportunities.

•Braun plans to replace the CPS superintendent and is against privatization of the public school system. She also wants to put a greater importance on the arts and community investment. Braun also plans to advocate for teacher pension funding from the state.

•Emanuel supports giving principals more power and accountability. He also thinks more focus should be placed on teacher training and performance. Emanuel wants to give students more learning opportunities by working with community and civic organizations to extend the school day, school week and school year through non-traditional

programs and activities.

PUBLIC SAFETY

•Chico wants to add 2,000 more police officers on the streets by the end of his first term by increasing efficiency and making public safety a top budget priority. He also wants to focus on gang and youth violence and create better programs for victim support.

•Del Valle plans to shift funds from police deskwork and parking ticket writing and put it toward more officers solving and preventing crimes. Del Valle also wants to improve released prisoner reintegration and strengthen the city of Chicago gun control ordinance by reviewing enforcement and effectiveness.

•Braun supports a higher police presence and more involvement on a community level. She wants to replace the police superintendent and overhaul senior citizen and youth safety measures by establishing new programs like a Senior Citizens Protection Unit and Chicago Summer Night Lights.

•Emanuel wants 1,000 more police officers on the street. He also plans to create better educational programs about youth violence and campaign for action on gun laws at the state and federal levels.

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