Chicago is at a major crossroads in its development. The city faces massive budget deficits and has been privatized to the point of no return -- the parking meters were simply a dreadful deal.
Taxes are high and TIFs needs to be equally distributed and reconsidered in their allocation. The crime rate may be down overall, but not for kids in certain parts of town who keep getting shot for no cause.
There are union problems, neighborhood re-development issues, and major questions as to what to do about the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago.
It will take innovation, extensive knowledge of the public and private sectors, proven management experience, political adroitness, and steely determination to solve the major issues facing Chicagoans as we move into an uncertain future.
At this point in time, and among this particular set of candidates, Rahm Emanuel is the person who most embodies these qualifications, and therefore, I am endorsing Rahm Emanuel for Mayor of the City of Chicago.
Of the six mayoral candidates, he has demonstrated a vision for the city that will continue to move us forward in a world class direction, and his leadership, business, and political acumen simply outshines the rest of the field by far.
Emanuel's resources will serve the city well. He is a proven problem solver and his White House executive experience will serve him well as he tackles the hard stuff. He has the resolve to stand up to tough issues head on and bring about conclusive solutions.
He has the respect and ear of the business community to utilize and capitalize on resources and networks. He was instrumental in working with the White House to put more cops on the streets of America, and has found potential funding for some of the educational issues. He has also promised to hire a professional educator to head the public schools system.
Emanuel's fundraising abilities and contacts are indeed impressive, attractive and proven. Little known about the man is that he worked for Andrew Young in Atlanta as he ran for Governor of the State of Georgia. He sees Atlanta as a model for Black businesses.
Narrowing The Field
When Mayor Daley stunningly announced that he would not seek re-election, he created political chaos, and as a result, more than a dozen people cast themselves as candidates for what Daley calls the "best job in America."
They came from everywhere -- the White House, the church, the field of business, from communities wishing to express their political interest, from dormant politicians who previously laid low like rats, too afraid to challenge Daley, but suddenly wolfing like they wanted to exert some political muscle.
The Black community weighed in with five candidates. The Hispanics brought their brightest. One Jewish candidate and one Irish candidate came forth. The ministers chose a minister. African-American business people were seeking one of their very own, and the Black politicians chose a politician for the race. The election boiled down not only to race but profession, as I saw it.
Had Michael Scott lived, he would have been an obvious choice, accepted by all. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was a clear choice, but stuff happens and he chose not to run. Other would-be candidates dropped out as the rigors of political reality set in.
In the Black community, eventually a consensus candidate came about after multiple meetings and much anguish. Rev. Jesse Jackson convened powerhouses of the Black community to come up with a single Black candidate because it was the only way to be viable and have a realistic chance to capture the mayor's seat.
The real force behind the scenes in this instance was Rev. Jeannette Wilson, who quietly and forcibly worked to boil it down to one candidate. At crunch time, Rev. Jackson vowed not to leave the room until a decision was made. The meeting lasted until midnight and resumed early the next morning when the two candidates were locked into a room to decide who would remain in the race.
In the meanwhile, N'DIGO was polling via electronic media, every time there was a major shift in the candidates and we partnered with other media outlets, WVON radio, NBC-TV Internet and WVAZ Internet, to conduct the electronic, unscientific poll.
At the outset of this race, my candidate of choice was Rev. James Meeks, but his ministry became an issue. I was for Meeks because I thought he had a hands on perspective for the problems facing the city, namely public education, crime and minority contracts.
Issues appear differently when you experience them directly. I liked his heart and his mind. Meeks has seen and buried the children killed in the streets. Rahm Emanuel has the mother of Blair Holt on a radio commercial, but it was Meeks who buried the child.
He has counseled the families in Roseland as their children have been killed. He has been an avid fighter for school funding. And he spoke up for African American businesses and the issuance of city contracts.
Congressman Danny Davis is a powerhouse in Washington and many thought he should maintain that seat. Thus, Carol Moseley Braun because the major Black candidate.
Carol Moseley Braun, The Candidate
Carol Moseley Braun has been a disappointment as a mayoral candidate. She has been an historic candidate in her many races for elective office. She has been a protest candidate. And now she finds herself as a "consensus" candidate.
She is the Black candidate, but she is not the best candidate.
Her campaign has not gotten off the ground. There simply is no buzz. Black women have come together to provide voice and reason to her candidacy, but she has failed to promote a positive message, or present her solutions to the city's problems.
Braun has not presented a platform and has not raised money. She has provided excuses for not providing her tax returns, a basic procedure for political candidates, and she has attacked personally those who have been critical of her. She has allowed herself to be provoked.
The last straw and biggest embarrassment was suggesting that fellow mayoral candidate Dr. Patricia Watkins is a crackhead after Watkins questioned where Braun has been for the past two decades.
Braun viciously attacked a candidate who is not even registering on the political radar and who has no chance of winning. Then her refusal to apologize cost her public favor.
She attacked Bill Walls similarly. These people are in the race to provoke and she ran head on into the trap. Again, with the good common sense and moral judgment, it was the behind the scenes maneuvering of Rev. Jeannette Wilson and other ministers that brought about Braun's public apology.
Braun has missed the mayoral opportunity by not expounding on issues and not aggressively campaigning. Her public record is impressive, her winning historic, but her campaigning style seeks direction, substance and a demonstration of leadership. You cannot campaign on being the first and the only. You cannot campaign on being Black and female exclusively.
She became the candidate because the Black community is desperate to have its voice heard. But the truth is -- we are divided from church to church, from West Side to South Side, from civil rights leadership to business leadership, to generational differences and various viewpoints on race relations.
Braun is not the one to unite this city and solve its problems. She has not employed winning or unifying strategies as she once did. Her past haunts her and perhaps prevents her from moving forward.
She has not demonstrated her grasp of the city's problems, with solutions. Her campaign has been a series of steady reactions to problems Braun has created herself, and that is not good enough at this time.
The Other Candidates
Miguel del Valle is the progressive candidate in the election, much like Harold Washington was. He is a hard worker and diligent in making the city run like a fine oiled machine in his current position as City Clerk. But I see no vision coming from his corner.
Gery Chico is an excellent manager who has held many of the city's top posts -- Chair of the Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges, Park District, and the Mayor's Chief of Staff. He seems to have some good plans to solve the city's problems -- but I don't see him moving the whole city forward.
Though not spoken loudly or publicly out of fear of sounding politically incorrect, the view is held by some that in business and political dealings in Chicago, as Blacks have reached out to the Hispanic community, they have not engaged in inclusive reciprocity in return. If there is a basis to that viewpoint, we do not need more of ethnic omission.
At this time, Rahm Emanuel is the best person to become the next Mayor of Chicago.
His background speaks volumes. His boldness will serve well to assure the city a global seat. His knowledge of federal government will bring home the bacon. His negotiation skills will serve in building consensus and leadership for all of Chicago.
He is feisty, energetic and aggressive, and his challenge will be to tone it down a bit as he moves from the background to the foreground.
N'DIGO endorses Rahm Emanuel for mayor, but his feet will have to be held to the fire, as promises have been made. And I vote no to the Rahm Tax.