THE CHI-TOWN LOW DOWN: Mayoral race continues with promises, campaign strategies

By Natalie Craig

As between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the continuation of the mayoral race brings new campaign advertisements, strategies and promises.

The race is closer now with only two candidates left in the running after Emanuel was forced into a runoff election Feb. 24 when he failed to receive 50 percent of the vote plus one single vote. Garcia, who won more than 33.9 percent of Chicago voters, will now face off with Emanuel until April 7, when one of them is elected mayor.

The two candidates must find ways to differentiate themselves to ensure their election as mayor for the next term. However, the two candidates are innately different.

Emanuel’s new campaign advertisement, which was uploaded to YouTube on March 3, shows the mayor acknowledging his weaknesses, claiming that they are also his strengths when it comes to dealing with Chicago’s rugged political landscape and policies put in place by previous legislators.

“I can rub people the wrong way or talk when I should listen, I own that,” Emanuel said in the video. “Look, I’m not always going to get it right, but when it comes to fighting for Chicago and Chicago’s future, no one is going to fight harder.”

Garcia, on the other hand, seems to speak when asked and listen when needed, unlike his prickly opponent. But will that serve him well if he becomes mayor of this city? In the video, Emanuel recalls times during his term when he was confronted with Chicago’s grim realities and forged ahead to make changes, which is where his weaknesses become his strengths.

Emanuel is not the only one flexing for voters, though. Garcia told Chicago Tribune reporters that he promises to remove red light cameras on his first day in office, according to a March 5 report. The cameras have become quite the controversy, whether it was because they have repeatedly caught Emanuel’s motorcade running red lights or because of the inconveniences they cause drivers.

The only thing voters can base their judgment on is the candidate’s record while holding office and the empty promises they make while campaigning. We will never really know if the promises will become a reality, or if they will fall to the wayside. My advice to voters: Choose the candidate who has made it a priority to show how he will fix Chicago Public Schools’ looming budget deficit or slow the city’s escalating crime rates and rising gang presence.

Still unsure of who to vote for? Here’s a hint: We are still waiting for them both to address these issues with specific solutions. But red light cameras appear to be more important than the issues responsible for displacing nearly 400,000 CPS students and contributing to a rise in gang violence.