Tuesday, April 5, 2011

EXTRA: Election Daze; Rahm wins again

What must it feel like to be Ed Burke these days?
Will we get Emanuel ...

First, his own wife (who sits on the Illinois Supreme Court) won’t bump off the mayoral candidacy of Rahm Emanuel, to the benefit of Flashy Eddie’s preference – Gery Chico.

THEN, EMANUEL GOES on to win the mayoral campaign so convincingly that we now wonder why we ever thought the election to replace Richard M. Daley would be competitive at all.

And now, Burke’s backing wasn’t enough to help long-time Alderman Bernard Stone hang onto his seat representing the far northern tip of Chicago.

Stone was one of the  incumbent aldermen who didn’t get enough votes to claim victory in the Feb. 22 municipal elections. So his ward was one of 14 across the city (out of 50 overall) that had to resort to a run-off.

In that run-off election held Tuesday, Stone (whom I recall from my City Hall reporting experience in the late 1980s as the press room companion of 1st Ward Alderman Fred Roti – it took a federal indictment against Roti to break their attachment at the hip) got only 38 percent of the vote.

HIS OPPONENT, DEBRA Silverstein (the wife of state Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago), got the other 62 percent. She also had the backing of mayor-elect Emanuel, which made the 50th Ward the latest battleground between new mayor Emanuel and old council Finance Chair Burke.

Which makes me wonder if there will be battle after battle between the two once Emanuel starts governing in mid-May.
... versus Burke in coming years?

That’s certainly the way Stone – who had been in the council since the latter days of Richard J. Daley as mayor – sees it. Noting that he lost his committeeman position a few years ago because of Richard M.’s influence, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Stone said, “instead of King Richard, he’s now Emperor Emanuel.

“If guys like Eddie Burke are pushed around by Rahm Emanuel, then this city is in for some rough times,” Stone said.


Of course, Stone isn’t the only incumbent City Council member on his way out. Sixth Ward Alderman Freddrenna Lyle was unable to get re-elected, losing to Roderick Sawyer – the son of former Mayor Eugene Sawyer, who himself was once the alderman of that South Side ward.

Aldermen Denise Dixon of the 24th Ward and 36th Ward Alderman John Rice also managed to lose to challengers on Tuesday.

But it seems that we are being spared/denied the sight of a rapper in the City Council. Che “Rhymefest” Smith’s bid to represent the 20th Ward is lagging behind that of incumbent Alderman Willie Cochran.

OF COURSE, I am enough of a political geek/observer to find elections and campaigning intriguing regardless of where it takes place.

Hence, I find my interest in the municipal elections of south suburban Chicago Heights, where voters apparently chose “unity” over “integrity” for mayor.

Those were the names of the slates created by the two mayoral hopefuls running for the post left vacant when the interim mayor, Vince Zaranti, decided he didn’t want to run for his own term.

So Unity Party candidate David Gonzalez, the candidate who had to cope with allegations that he was a drug dealer (the reality is that his brother has an arrest record for drug-related offenses), managed to prevail over Integrity Party candidate Joe Faso.

TO LISTEN TO Faso, he’s the candidate who was being viciously attacked and whose supporters were being intimidated by Gonzalez backers into keeping their mouths shut.

In short, this was an ugly political brawl – one so vicious that at one point, local religious leaders suggested that the Cook County clerk’s office close the early voting center they maintained in the south suburb (which was one of the busiest this year in all of Cook County).

Local voters wound up picking the candidate who was a political ally of the man who likely would have run for mayor. But Alex Lopez – who became mayor when state Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, gave up the post to become a legislator – died last year at age 44 due to complications caused by diabetes.

Will Chicago Heights, a city who for many decades had a government that was heavily influenced by elements of what we politely call organized crime, finally gain stability? Who’s to say!

I HAD ONE other election I was watching – even though it didn’t take place anywhere in the Chicago metro area. In downstate Normal, Ill., voters picked the three incumbents seeking re-election to serve again on their Town Council.

Which means that Gary Ohler, who is a fellow Illinois Wesleyan University alumnus (we both graduated the same year), finished fourth (of five candidates) and is NOT about to begin his career as a government official.

That is too bad. Because the Gary I remember was diligent and serious, even if one time he tried to get me involved in a scheme selling Amway products – telling me I could potentially become so wealthy I could retire early and enjoy my life.

I forgive him for that effort, and am kind of glad he will not be exposed to the whiny geeks that all too many political people become once they get elected to office. He deserves better in life.


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