Thursday, February 28, 2019

What kind of ‘first’ are we going to see come the April 2 run-off election?

It’s the angle we’re being played over and over again with regards to Chicago’s municipal elections; the Second City is going to get a black woman elected as our mayor – regardless of who manages to prevail in the April 2 run-off.
The way we'll remember Tuesday. Photo by Gregory Tejeda
It’s true! Both Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, who came in first and second amongst the 14 candidates running for mayor on Tuesday, qualify as African-Americans of the female persuasion.

WE’VE NEVER HAD that particular combination amongst our city’s mayors. Although we’ve had two black men as mayors and one woman, so I’m sure there will be some people who claim it’s wrong to make a big deal out of this particular mixture.

Of course, it’s very likely that people expressing this attitude are of the belief that picking the “best qualified” person to be mayor invariably means going with a white man.

For all I know, the people most bothered by the ongoing emphasis about a black woman being elected are the ones who also are pointing out how William Daley (with his 14.69 percent, third place finish) would have actually finished first if the 7.3 percent of the vote cast for Jerry Joyce had actually gone to Bill.

We’d have the likelihood of Daley III as mayor, with Preckwinkle reduced to third and the constant speculation about how it was her ties to embattled alderman Edward M. Burke who took her down to mayoral defeat.

I KNOW SOME are getting excited about the prospects of having a black person in the mayor’s office at City Hall. Some even like the notion of Lightfoot being lesbian and in a gay marriage. Something for everyone to pick from when they go about making a choice for mayor in the run-off election.
Did Joyce decide electoral outcome in unintended way?

But I have to admit, I think the fact that they’re women plays more of a factor into determining the strengths of each candidate.

Because in looking at the city ward maps that detail which candidates did best in each ward, I couldn’t help but notice the strong resemblance between the voter support in majority-black wards that existed back in the days of Harold Washington and that exists now for the millionaire black candidate Willie Wilson.

I don’t doubt that people who made their choice Tuesday for a mayor based on the idea of having a black person in the mayor’s office ultimately decided against either Lightfoot or Preckwinkle and were amongst the 10.77 percent who liked the idea of Wilson’s charitable cash hand-outs to the less-fortunate.

WHILE MUCH OF Lightfoot’s support seems to come in the wards that comprise the north lakefront. With Preckwinkle being predominant in the south lakefront wards.

Could this come down to something of a baseball-themed election run-off? With Lori getting the backing of Cubs fans, with Toni getting the preference of Chicagoans who realize that “real” baseball is played by the White Sox?
How weak was Latino vote? Mendoza lost … 

It might well be that the historical figure we ought to be paying attention to is that of Jane Byrne – who served her one term as mayor from 1979-83 and who was the woman who campaigned on the idea that she was going to smash “the Machine,” but wound up making her accommodations with it in order to survive politically.

Which could mean that this election cycle will most likely be decided by those individuals who went into Tuesday’s voting casting ballots for either Daley or Joyce. In short, the people who probably have their hang-ups about what is happening.

WILL THIS ELECTION wind up being decided by how many of THOSE people decide they can’t bring themselves to vote for either Lightfoot or Preckwinkle? Thereby allowing their existing support to remain significant?
… but Burke didn't

Or will this really become an election cycle decided by people casting their ballots while pinching their noses shut at the very thought of what they’re doing?

Personally, I’m somewhat saddened by the 9.02 percent voter support that Susana Mendoza’s mayoral bid received. If anything, I’d consider a “first Latina” mayor a more significant achievement than the one we’re going to get. But that will have to be a goal for a future election cycle, since we're still in an era where Mendoza couldn't win -- but Ed Burke as alderman could with 53.8 percent voter support in a ward that is about 80 percent Latino.

And I’m also amused by the 6.23 percent support achieved by candidate Gery Chico – with much of it crammed into the 10th Ward (my own birthplace and home of many of my cousins and other relatives); making it the lone ward in Chicago that thought the one-time Chicago Education Board President would make a fit mayor for our city.


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