Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What happens to opponents following the Tuesday municipal elections?

Jesus Garcia may wind up being the “big” winner of this election cycle, even if he doesn’t wind up winning a mayoral election either Tuesday or in April.

Garcia has been on the local political scene off-and-on for the past three decades, and has served at City Hall, the Statehouse in Springfield and at the County Building.

THE LATTER IS his current place of political occupancy – he’s been a county board member for the past four years and just got himself re-elected to another four-year term back in the November election cycle.

Which means he doesn’t face political oblivion if he doesn’t win on April 7, or finishes lower than second place on Tuesday.  If anything, he’s now a county board member with a bit of the public spotlight glowing off him.

He has a chance to be one of the power players on the county board; and definitely one of the more significant of the 17 commissioners.

He’s probably not going to become the equivalent of Commissioner John Daley, D-Chicago, in terms of being significant in the way Cook County government does its business (the Daley brother is the county board’s finance committee chair).

BUT HE’S CERTAINLY going to draw more attention than someone like Gregg Goslin, R-Glenview, whom I wonder if even northwest suburban residents are aware of who he is.

A return to the county board following the municipal elections could give Garcia the chance to have so many political observer eyes focused on him that he becomes someone significant.

If he handles himself right, he could become a political powerbroker in his own right. People could wind up benefitting in the key issues and the constituency that he claims to represent during his mayoral campaign.

If anything, I wonder if he could wind up being one of the most successful mayoral also-rans on the local political scene.

CURRENTLY, I’D HAVE to say that niche is filled by Timothy Evans.

Remember when he challenged Richard M. Daley back in the late 1980s when the future mayor was trying to win his first term (actually, the right to finish what was left of the late Harold Washington’s mayoral stint)?

Evans was a significant part of Washington’s allies in the City Council, and he managed to dominate the African-American vote the same way Harold did. Only he couldn’t take any significant white or Latino vote like Washington, so he wound up losing.

Yet Evans is now the chief justice of the Cook County court system. Which isn’t a bad post to have. I can think of a lot of political people whose over-bloated egos would be thoroughly satisfied if they could wind up with such a position some day!

IT’S NOT LIKE some of the other Daley challengers throughout the years, such as Danny Davis or Bobby Rush – who remain in Congress but clearly have shown they will never advance any further than their own particular neighborhoods in terms of being taken seriously.

Garcia, if he conducts himself properly in coming weeks, could provide himself a chance to move up in authority. Or else he could be the guy who quickly gets forgotten except for the confines of his home Little Village neighborhood.

We’ll have to wait and see.

As for the other mayoral challengers, I’m not sure what to think. Second Ward Ald. Robert Fioretti had to give up a chance to keep his City Council post in order to run for mayor, and I suspect his outspoken demeanor as an alderman will ensure the powerbrokers will go out of their way to keep him outside the political structure.

IS HE THE new member of the “ancient history” club that now includes people such as Richard Phelan and Jack O’Malley -- the one-time county board president and state's attorney, for those who have forgotten?

Willie Wilson likely also will not have much of a political future. Although I’ll admit it would be interesting if whoever does wind up winning the mayoral post were to consider making the one-time McDonald’s franchise operator-turned-millionaire into some sort of adviser to government.

He does have some ideas worth considering (albeit not his suggestions of doing away with the police superintendent’s post) and he speaks for a constituency that does not get listened to often enough.

And as for William “Dock” Walls? We’ll likely see him again in 2019 when he again tries running a token bid for mayor and takes 2 percent of the vote – making him the 21st Century equivalent of Lar “America First” Daly, who ran for mayor and so many other political posts during his life without ever winning a thing!


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