Saturday, June 16, 2018

Is there really a difference between a city neighborhood and a suburb?

That’s the question bopping through my brain these days, what with the questions being brought up about the mayoral aspirations of Paul Vallas.

VALLAS: Chicago enough to be mayor?
The one-time CEO of the Chicago Public Schools who also has worked in education in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Bridgeport, Conn., has had quite a life in many places.

BORN IN CHICAGO, it seems that Vallas is like many a Second City native in that he regards Chicago as home and his life always manages to bring him back to us – even though his work life has managed to take him to several places.

In fact, Vallas had his long-time home in the Chicago area in suburban Crestwood – which was his residence when he ran for lieutenant governor back in 2014.

Which is why it shouldn’t be shocking that some people are already trying to take Vallas’ mayoral aspirations down for the count by trying to make it seem that Paul has no right to think of himself as a Chicagoan.

WMAQ-TV this week reported how Vallas’ mayoral campaign doesn’t seem to have an office in Chicago. Campaign literature does offer up an address in the Chinatown neighborhood, but the television station couldn’t find local people aware of any political presence.

THEY DID FIND evidence that Vallas’ brother, Dean, has business interests at that address, and also in Crestwood. It also seems the Vallas for Mayor campaign, as it exists, does have a bank account – at a financial institution out in Plainfield.

Which, for what it’s worth, is a suburb not even located in Cook County (it’s most definitely Will, where locals consider Joliet to be the BIG city nearby).

So is Vallas unfit to even think of running for mayor of Chicago? Are we going to get something similar to the political strategy back in the 2011 election cycle – when people tried arguing that Rahm Emanuel wasn’t really a Chicagoan.

EMANUEL: Residency issue didn't work
After all, he was raised in the North Shore suburbs near Wilmette and did live in Washington, D.C. back when he was working for presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and also serving in the House of Representatives – albeit representing a district that covered the Northwest suburbs of Chicago proper.

THAT EFFORT ULTIMATELY failed, in large part because the courts ultimately found that Rahm was registered to vote at the residence where he continues to live – even during much of the time he was working in the District of Columbia.

While Vallas made a point of moving to the Lincoln Park neighborhood several months ago – so as to establish city residency so he could even consider being on the mayoral ballot for the 2019 election cycle.

It may be a lame issue. But then again, when there are roughly a dozen people talking seriously about trying to get their names on the ballot next year to run for mayor, perhaps they hope it will stick.

Particularly if it only manages to sway a few potential voters into erasing Vallas from their mental consideration for their vote. A few is all it will take in an at-large election in which no one will come close to a 50-percent-plus-one majority.

NOW I REALIZE why municipal elections are open only to city residents-proper. Suburbs have their own local governments. People ought to have a stake in the communities whose government business they want to do.

But there is a part of me who wonders if we ought to think of places like Calumet City, Cicero or Evanston as being similar to Hyde Park, Austin or Lake View. In terms of being small communities that comprise the greater entity otherwise known as the Chicago metropolitan area.

The idea that the Vallas campaign is at such an early stage it really hasn’t set up a full-time campaign office or established bank accounts for itself within the city proper for an election cycle that remains some eight months off (and we still have to vote for governor first) comes across as a non-issue.

Besides, if the Vallas campaign really is uncoordinated enough that it can’t put together a proper campaign office and account at one of the city’s bigger banks, then it likely is destined to become one of a fringe nature that we’ll most likely forget all about a year from now.


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