Chicago's Next Mayor

09/14/2010 04:53 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Hermene Hartman President, Hartman Publishing Group, Inc.; President, N'DIGO Foundation

Now that Mayor Daley will not seek a seventh term, apparently everybody from the neighborhood dogcatcher to the White House Chief of Staff has decided to throw their hats into the ring.

Being the mayor is no joke; it requires skills.

The criteria for Mayor should be considered seriously. A business mind is required.
The city is in a $655 million deficit. Who can fix it? We are facing drastic job layoffs and/or tax increases, which is a political death sentence. Do we want a one-term mayor to fix the problem and then move on? Do we want to consider term limits? Or do we require a middle aged mayor with lasting ability?

Chicago likes longevity and connectivity in its mayoral selections. If we want a mayor to fix it, Senator Emil Jones, former president of the Senate, should be in the running. Likewise, Senator Roland Burris is quite skilled in the budget process.

The next mayor will face challenges in moving the city forward. The Black community cannot use the Harold Washington model of yesterday as a winning formula. It is an old model and there will be far more than three candidates. Harold had some built-ins that won't exist this time around. Perhaps the 2007 New York model used with Mayor Michael Bloomberg would serve us well at this time. In 2001, Bloomberg was a Democrat who won the mayor's seat running as a Republican; in 2007, he left the G.O.P. and ran as an Independent. He told reporters, "Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles."

This is an equal opportunity race. There is a small window to get up to speed. This will be a run for or against the White House crew from Chicago. They will try to dictate the winner. Local Chicago will probably resent this effort.

The same people who paved the way for the Obama win will deliver the next mayor to Chicago. Chicago at large will not welcome the outsiders. This is a family matter. And even though Daley received criticism, no one, whatsoever, doubted his love, passion and best interest for the City of Chicago. He was the mayor who was like a father of the city. That's what Chicago likes, fathers for the city. And you can't be a good father if you run away from home, even if it's to a bigger house.

The Contenders:

The Sun-Times recent poll rates Senator James Meeks as a front-runner with ten percent of the vote. This is an early poll with strong indication that all roads lead to Meeks. He has a mega church and has been in the forefront of equal funding for public education. His work on education will serve him well. His humility will be a well-received personality trait. His challenge, however, will be to crossover with a coalition of vote. He can raise the funds and get the votes. He will have to build a solid coalition.

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is a contender. Should he give up seniority in Congress for the local seat? The new Blagojevich trial will be underway in the height of the campaign. This could be a distraction.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez is a serious contender with nine percent from the Sun-Times early poll. Should he leave seniority and the national stage for the local seat? His challenge as well is becoming a crossover candidate.

Terry Peterson, the mayor's former 2007 campaign manager, could run the city. He knows the working parts. Some perceive him as being too close to Mayor Daley to run for office. The question is, does he want to leave the private world for the fifth floor?

Alderman Eddie Burke is a possible candidate. Can he live down the history of the Council Wars from the Harold Washington days? Some will never forgive him for the constant digs at Washington.

President Obama thinks his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel would make a "terrific mayor," but the polls don't agree. He could raise the money with little effort, but he has no troops on the ground. It will take more than money to win the race. He, too, must consider being a crossover candidate.

Most Chicagoans are undecided on who should be the next mayor. It is early in the game. The shakeout is still taking place. However, we better look with eyes of reality. The job is tough and not always rewarding.

This is not a romantic run; it is real.

Real is the need for about $5 million in the war chest. Real is a coalition builder who can crossover votes and unite the city. Real is a strong organization that can deliver and be productive. Real is the ability to develop a winning team.

And the Black community is in a real seat of power, that is, if we don't blow it by bickering over egos and fighting about the small stuff while we miss the big picture. The Black community has the ability to make or break elections with bloc voting. This is a time for us to unite for a winner.

Keyword: win.

This is not a race for the faint of heart; neither is it for the retired politician trying to make a comeback. It is not for the obvious candidates, who run, just to run.

It is not about running, it is about winning. You do things different when you are winning than when you are running.

Chicago and Illinois politics will undergo a political revolution with all new seats. The Mayor, the Governor, the Cook County Board, the Senate are all hot seats of power up for a vote.

Chicago has changed. The state of Illinois could change.

Winning the mayoral office is an incredible opportunity that, for most contenders, will occur once in a lifetime.

Who do you think should be the next Mayor of the City of Chicago? Who could win? Or better yet, who deserves to win? Take the N'Digo/WVON Mayoral Poll.

The poll is open until Friday, September 17, 2010. Results will be released next week.