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Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive

Posted: September 8, 2010 08:46 PM

So, here we are, who'd a thunk it: It's been over a half-century since there hasn't been an incumbent in a Chicago mayoral race, and it's been several decades since no Richard Daley has been in a mayoral race.

So, you say, it's clearly time for a clean break with the past, clearly time to do something really different.

But, I say, the only clean break with the past that matters is electing a pro-women woman the next Mayor of Chicago. That's something different that will really make a difference.

Take note:

Black, brown or white, most of the Chicago families suffering in poverty are woman-headed families.

Black, brown, or white, most of the Chicago families, whose children are getting killed, are woman-headed families.

Black, brown, or white, most of the Chicago families who are homeless are woman-headed families.

Black, brown, or white, most of the Chicago families who can't find an affordable apartment in a safe neighborhood are woman-headed families.

Black, brown, or white, most of the Chicagoans who can't find jobs, who also have children to feed, clothe, and get to school every day, are women.

Black, brown or white, most of the Chicago families, desperate for change they can believe in, are woman-headed families.

In the face of this American tragedy, the case for electing a pro-women woman mayor is the winning one--both for political reasons and for governing ones. Take note:

--The services and programs Chicago's mayor has to deliver--say, creating schools in which most children graduate from high school, or creating housing working families can afford to live in, or, most of all, creating neighborhoods safe enough for people to live in, well, in Chicago, those are services and programs women need the most. In fact, if women had them, and the programs worked for them, we wouldn't be in the muddle we're in.

So, I ask: Why, oh why, should the choice for mayor be a man, any man, when it's women, not men, who most need the help City Hall can provide?

--Women run our neighborhoods; the decisions that matter daily (pun intended), in this city's neighborhoods--south side, west side, north side, or east side--are made by women. Why shouldn't the decisions at City Hall be?

--Chicago is in crisis mode right now: There is no clear, winning economic development strategy. The city is about as racially polarized as it ever was. The rich enjoy a world-class city; the poor live in a third-world one.

What crises need are transformative figures, not, as they say in some Chicago neighborhoods, the "same old, same old." What cities in crisis need are transformative mayors. Yet another male politician--of whatever political stripe, or ethnic or racial background--can't be, just by definition. A pro-women woman would be.

Ask any Chicagoan: She'll say she wants someone who, in order to get to talk the talk (as Mayor), should be someone who walks the walk. And that walk would be the woman's walk--to school with her children, to work with her neighbors, to downtown to get what she needs from that talker who is also a sister.

Yup: In a city where women-headed families bear the brunt of the city's failings, the kind of person who could talk the talk is a woman with real-life experience in this city--this city whose (male) shoulders just haven't been big enough to carry its women and children. Time to try something new and different.

Ask any Chicagoan: She'll say that our next Mayor, to be credible anywhere but, maybe, in the rooms of the LaSalle Street moneychangers-raisers, is going to have to be able to talk about her experience, say, with our city's schools, or with finding an affordable apartment, or with finding a neighborhood in which it's safe enough to walk to the local park, or with finding a job with a decent paycheck and a career ladder.

So, you say: Rahm's got a hot million in his political fund. So, you say Rahm can raise more money--in those LaSalle Street moneychangers-raisers' rooms (or on Wall Street, for that matter)--in a day than most other mayoral candidates could raise in a lifetime. So, you say, Rahm's family story, his growing up in this city, his giving back to the community, his serving his country, is the story that's fitting for these days, in these times, in this city. Well, I beg to differ.

Yet another man, even one who has a successful history in public life; even one who can get potholes fixed; even one who knows how to knock heads together--even heads black, brown and white, at the same time, in the same room--even one with a direct line to the biggest head of them all--is just not the answer to our city's need for a transformative mayor.

Instead, the answer is a pro-women woman--for though the male pundits won't admit it, and the regular female pundits are afraid to say it--electing a woman is the change Chicago needs; the change Chicago would believe in. Electing a woman would make it clear to those neighborhood women, watching anxiously for their children to get to school safely this morning, that the city that works works for them.

 
 
 

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