If Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia wins his runoff election against incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel, the last two weeks may be considered rather pivotal to that victory.
Since early March, Garcia has picked up the official endorsements of Rev. Jesse Jackson, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th), former state senate president and President Obama’s political mentor Emil Jones, and businessman and former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson.
On Tuesday, March 10, Garcia was officially endorsed by an array of West Side clergy and community leaders, including Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin, where Congressman Davis endorsed Garcia last Sunday.
While it’s not clear what precise affect the endorsements will have on the minority voter turnout on April 7, they send a rather clear signal that Garcia could be on his way to building the kind of black-Hispanic base of support he’ll desperately need to unseat the rather vulnerable, but still heavily funded, incumbent Rahm Emanuel.
“I was a political science student at the University of Illinois back in 1986 when a young Chuy Garcia joined forces with the late Mayor Harold Washington. I saw them both fight tooth and nail to have equity and fairness for all people in our city, regardless of your side of town or the color of your skin. Judging from Chuy’s decades of public service, I am confident that he will use his leadership style of inclusion to end our current tale of two cities, the haves and the have-nots.” Stated Rev. Ira Acree in a statement.
Rev. Acree and prominent Austin pastor Marshall Hatch were both key advisors in Wilson’s mayoral campaign. In their endorsement of Garcia, the West Side leaders offered a rather stinging rebuke of both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the many African American aldermen who have sided with him—some of whom face close runoff elections of their own come April 7. Both Acree and Hatch have voiced their support of Graham’s opponent, Chris Taliaferro.
The leaders cited the consistent economic disinvestment in Austin, in addition to a number of specific policies implemented by Emanuel, as the primary reasons for their endorsement of Garcia.
“The city has consistently neglected Austin under this administration when it comes to handing out money for community development. A couple years ago there was $330 million earmarked for developing communities. Austin, the largest community received no funding. This administration has consistently dumped on us. Now it’s time we dump Rahm, and he can take Alderman Deborah Graham along with him.” said C.B. Williams, the executive director of The Citizens for a Better West Side.
“When considering the staggering unemployment rate in west side communities, the community instability caused by the historic number of school closings, and the arrogance and insensitivity of red light cameras that hurt poor people the most, the conclusion is glaringly clear, that Chicago needs a new vision and it starts by electing a new mayor,” said Rev. Cy Fields.