By Joseph Erbentraut for the Windy City Times
In an unprecedented event organized by a coalition representing more than 30 Chicago LGBT groups, three of the six remaining candidates vying to succeed Mayor Richard M. Daley appeared Feb. 9 at a community forum held at the Adler School of Professional Psychology.
The three mayoral candidates missing from the forum all attended a rescheduled Chicago Defender candidate debate instead. Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William "Dock" Walls were no-shows at the forum, while Gery Chico had asked forum organizers if his scheduled speaking time could be moved earlier in order for him to attend both forums. Organizers argued such a concession would have been unfair to the other candidates. Chico, instead, greeted attendees as they arrived at the forum.
Rahm Emanuel, Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel del Valle each spoke before an audience of roughly 200, with hundreds more watching online live, and answered a series of questions that addressed five core concerns the coalition had identified: Education, HIV/AIDS, youth homelessness, transgender issues and public safety. The questions were posed by forum moderator and Windy City Times Publisher Tracy Baim.
Speaking first, Emanuel said he would prioritize hiring new superintendents to both the city's police department and public schools who share his concern for LGBT issues, including bullying in schools and accusations of police harassment of LGBT Chicagoans. He also described his support for HIV/AIDS funding -- out of its public health concern -- throughout the city, not just on its North side.