By Reema Amin
It's been hard to find Ald. Emma Mitts at key moments these last few months of the 37th Ward aldermanic race, so how will that affect the outcome of Tuesday's municipal election? Perhaps not at all, political experts say.
The 15-year alderman, who is facing three challengers, was the only one missing from a West Side candidates forum held Jan. 29. It was announced she was dealing with an emergency involving a constituent. Sources told AustinTalks she had been at a local school event right before the forum.
About two weeks before that, Mitts was invited to debate candidate Tara Stamps, who's won the Chicago Teachers Union's endorsement. But sheignored the request, according to Stamps' spokeswoman Emma Tai. The alderman also didn't return calls to AustinTalks to discuss the matter.
In fact, Mitts has not responded to several calls from AustinTalks since November for comment on stories about the race, so it's not been possible to ask her about her record or discuss her vision for the next four years if she wins reelection.
The Mitts campaign did, however, submit candidate questionnaires to the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, and the candidate did a short interview with Aldertrack, a website that provides aldermanic news.
The Sun-Times has endorsed the incumbent in hopes that she will vote with Mayor Rahm Emanuel when it comes time to make tough pension-related decisions, assuming she gets re-elected. The Chicago Tribune, however,threw its support behind Stamps.
The Sun-Times' support underscores one of the main critiques Mitts' challengers have hammered during the campaign – the alderman is nothing but a mayoral puppet who votes with him on most every issue.
But in the one interview Mitts had with AustinTalks in November, she asserted she works to represent her constituents and they're happy with her leadership.
Potential voters supported her in a recent poll.
The poll, conducted earlier this month by Ogden and Fry, showed 55 percent of the 365 respondents would vote for Mitts. Stamps came in second with 23 percent, while Maretta Brown-Miller, a Chicago Park District employee, got 13.2 percent. Seven percent of the respondents said they'd vote for former CAPS beat facilitator Leroy Duncan.
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