Friday, December 16, 2016

Does ethnic, racial diversity in slating really create voter candidate appeal?

It was a guiding principal of slating candidates to run for political office known as “the three I’s,” and it would seem to be in place in 21st Century Chicago – albeit in a slightly adapted form.
VALENCIA: Keeping Latino streak alive

The “three I’s” implied that candidates have to work as a team in order get the most votes, and the “team” has to have an individual who would directly appeal to everybody – hence a perfect ticket ought to include someone who’s Irish, someone who’s Italian and also someone who’s Jewish, which for purposes of an easy label became Israel.


We still have that principle in place, although now it means we need to have a white candidate, a black candidate and someone with ethnic origins in Latin America. Which doesn’t create for a cutesy label, but is the same basic idea.

It seems that Mayor Rahm Emanuel followed the principle earlier this week when he announced his appointment of a replacement city clerk – Anna Valencia, who had actually been one of his staffers before getting a post that gives her a title with some authority.

Of course, being city clerk means she’s in charge of the office that usually manages to frustrate people when they have to deal with it – particularly when it comes to that time of the year when people have to renew the vehicle registration stickers they’re required to post on their cars (and pay for) in order to legally drive.

BEING THE STICKER saleswoman may not sound like much. But it means that Valencia will have a chance to run for a city-wide government post come the 2019 election cycle.
Valencia will get her name on automobiles all across Chicago when new stickers come out
Valencia gets the post because previous Clerk Susana Mendoza gave the city office up to become the Illinois comptroller through 2018. She gained that post back in 2011 when then-Clerk Miguel del Valle ran unsuccessfully for mayor.

You literally have to go back to 2006 to find a non-Latino city clerk (it was James Laski, who had to resign following his criminal indictment and conviction),

Which put the pressure on Emanuel to appoint a replacement clerk with Latin American origins (del Valle was born in Puerto Rico and came to Chicago when he was 4, while Mendoza’s parents were immigrants from Mexico).
MENDOZA: Movin' on up from City Hall these days

OF COURSE, THERE also were those people with African-American origins who would have liked to have seen a black person put into another city-wide position. Although I doubt Emanuel would have had the nerve to take on the Latino community of Chicago (about one-quarter of the city’s population) in a political fight when he has so many other people to quarrel with.

Besides, there is city Treasurer Kurt Summers who is black, and it reinforces the idea of an ethnic/racial split of the city’s governmental power. Although I can’t help but chuckle at the confusion the old-school Irish of Chicago’s political culture feel about the notion of the “white” person (Emanuel as mayor) being represented by someone who is Jewish. And I also remember when the treasurer’s office was the one used by Miriam Santos, who was the first Latina official in Chicago city government back in the 1990s.

Insofar as Valencia is concerned, she was a city lobbyist, and also worked as a campaign manager for Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and for Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Gary Peters, D-Mich. (now a senator, and NOT the one-time White Sox pitcher) with the Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund and for state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.

She has worked in various posts at city, state and federal government, which is impressive. Particularly since she’s only 31 – the fact that truly catches my attention. She was a mere baby back in the days when I roamed around the city looking for news stories for the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago.
EMANUEL: Playing by rules to keep power

BUT TIME DOES pass, and as Emanuel said himself, her youth means she’s the next generation of Chicago leadership rising through the ranks. Personally, I’m not quite ready to proclaim proclaim Valencia as the first Latina to become mayor (maybe around the 2035 election cycle?).

But it does amuse me to see how times change, while managing to incorporate some of the basic principles of maintaining political power to keep the peace.

Or else run the risk of having some trouble-making person with Republican political leanings from the Sauganash or Mount Greenwood neighborhoods from coming in and taking advantage of the resulting political dissent that could end the nearly 90-year streak of Democrats holding control of the mayor’s office.


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