Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis held an event last evening at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall in the Beverly community and told a packed house of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other 19th Ward parents and residents she is now "seriously considering" a run for Mayor of Chicago in an attempt to unseat Rahm Emanuel. Ms. Lewis has evolved from just "thinking about it" to "seriously considering" her run. The discussion was moderated by famed journalist Walter Jacobson.
Ms. Lewis was asked by Jacobson if she was concerned about Mayor Emanuel's fundraising prowess, pointing out that he has more than 8 million dollars (and climbing) in his campaign coffers. She acknowledged that she will not match Emanuel's fundraising but that she would be competitive. Just yesterday, it was reported that the American Federation of Teachers will pledge one million dollars to Ms. Lewis should she decide to run.
Ms. Lewis also took a shot at Emanuel about his fundraising. "The majority of Rahm's donors will not be able to vote for him because they don't live here." The partisan crowd applauded their approval.
Jacobson asked Ms. Lewis if she "hated" Emanuel, she responded "No, I don't hate him." Jacobson then followed up by asking, "Does he hate you?" to which she responded, "Oh probably."
When asked if she felt Emanuel has done "any good," Ms. Lewis responded "Nothing immediately comes to mind." Ms. Lewis was critical of a laundry list of items including the school closings. Ms. Lewis also was critical of the red light cameras. Jacobson asked pointedly if she would eliminate the cameras and she stopped short of committing to their elimination. "It is certainly worth an audit."
Ms. Lewis argued the the city of Chicago workforce is demoralized and pointed the finger at Mayor Emanuel. She especially pointed at police who she says are "tired" and called for increasing the number of police officers. "Obviously, we can't add 2000 police officers overnight, but we need a plan. Just the savings from overtime can pay for this."
Ms. Lewis was highly-critical of Emanuel for not seeking community input for ideas and changes. "We don't have a participatory budgeting process, we don't have a participatory democracy in Chicago." Ms. Lewis vowed to change the "lack of participatory" government under Emanuel.
Ms. Lewis made news in announcing that she had filed the necessary paperwork Tuesday in order to comply with campaign finance laws in Illinois. She also told the packed house that she plans to start circulate petitions to voters to gauge whether there's interest. "It is a way of gauging interest and support" for her possible campaign.
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, is the first day to circulate for signature candidate nominating petitions for the Chicago elective offices of Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer and Alderman. The petition period extends to Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, which is the first day a candidate can file until the final day of filing on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.
Municipal General Election will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, with early voting beginning Feb. 9, 2014, and extending through Saturday, Feb. 21, 2014.