There is a reason to vote

April 2 is a critical day in Chicago’s future

When Chicago voters go to the polls to elect 50 aldermen and a new mayor, it will be only the third time in the city’s history residents don’t have the option to vote for an incumbent mayor.

More importantly, it will be the first time Chicagoans will elect an African-American female to city’s highest office. Others, including Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely Braun, and State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt all have tried.

Despite the real and implied historical aspects, there is no reason to believe the turnout April 2 in the runoff election between Cook County Board President and former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot the voter turnout will top the February 26 election total. That topped out at less than 36 percent.

Ms. Lightfoot received the endorsement of Willie Wilson, who finished third in the 2015 election, and fourth on February 26. However, it is not likely the 58,000 voters who selected Mr. Wilson are likely to follow Ms. Lightfoot, as she is a virtual unknown in most of the Black community. There is not enoughtime to immerse here in the community.

Wilie Wilson, who has lost two bids for mayor hopes to be a kingmaker by endorsing Lori Lightfoot

Suzana Mendoza is the real prize among those who didn’t make the runoff. While she garnered about 8,000 votes less than Willie Wilson, her base is the Latino community. If she chooses to back either candidate and delivers them the Latino vote that person will walk away an easy winner.

More so than at any time in the recent past voting matters because it can help shape the city’s future. A first-time mayor will be more inclined to listen to the voting bloc that put her in office. We also are seeing neither candidate will come into office with solid plans to address the most pressing problems, as well as the public’s highest priorities. Additionally, a first time mayor needs to perform to constituent’s satisfaction, rather than her own agenda to have a chance at a second term.

Dems have tough choice in AG race

When State Sen. Kwame Raoul announced his intent last month to run for the Illinois Attorney General’s seat suddenly vacated by long-time occupant Lisa Madigan, few were surprised, and many were elated. Nearly every time there is a state-wide vacancy that is a step up from the state senior chamber, Mr. Raoul’s name is mentioned. Barbershop talk keeps the three-term senator’s name afloat whenever there are hunches about who will try to replace Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Until Ms. Madigan announced her pending departure, Mr. Raoul has politely demurred from such talks.

Ericka Herald brings an extensive resume as a corporate attorney, but no political experience.

Almost as soon as Raoul announced, the GOP countered with a rarity-an African-American female candidate. Yes,  a corporate lawyer, Ericka Harold, an accomplished corporate attorney is what they hope will be the equalizer to Mr. Raoul.

The flies in Ms. Harold’s ointment are a lack of political experience, especially when it comes to campaigning. The arduous schedule and statewide travel has been the undoing of more experienced candidates; additionally, she represents the GOP in a state is severely disappointed with its first Republican governor in two decades. Ms. Harold can be seen as the party’s willing sacrificial lamb. Her greatest challenge will be her lack of name recognition among Chicago area voters.

A second surprise candidate, this time a Democrat, Sharon Fairley entered the race at the beginning of October. Like Ms. Harold, Ms. Fairley’s political resume lacks any campaign or elected office experience. There should be little doubt that much of Ms. Fairley’s time on the path to winning the AG’s race will be fraught with defending her record as executive director of Chicago Civilian Office on Police Accountability (COPA).

Continue reading “Dems have tough choice in AG race”

Don’t “kneejerk” county commissioners

Since the pop tax was announced and ultimately went into effect, there has been a battle cry of “vote em all out.” The sentiment is extremely understanding and equally short-sighted.

We have five months before we can cast a vote for Cook County Commissioner-any of them. That is five months to take two critically important steps. The first is asking yourself why did you vote for that person nearly four years ago. The second is to do a little research and find out how your commissioner voted on issues since being in office. If you voted for an incumbent, what did he or do or say to earn that vote? Has that position changed? If no, is the pop tax enough to change who represents you? It is wise to look at the commissioner’s history of voting rather than one disastrous vote.

With less than six months to go until the election, already we should be seeing signs or at least getting subtle signals or who is running against the incumbents. It would make sense to pinpoint one or two or even a handful of commissioners to turn out, but every incumbent doesn’t make good political or governmental sense.

With the rationale of voting them out hinging on this single vote does that mean eight commissioners who voted against the tax should be broomed out as well? It is imperative that Cook County voters, especially Chicagoans, start voting more strategically and less emotionally. A social media recently offered in the “all out” discussion that Commissioner Jerry Butler should be exempt because of his singing career. Really?

Deer was appointed in July following the death of Comm. Robert Steele


Let’s take freshly minted Commissioner Dennis Deer.   Deer has not had a chance to show what he’s made of, and the next four, five or six months might not give him a chance to do so. However, Deer did face formidable competition, especially from Springfield lobbyist Frank Bass. But will Bass or the other long line of Deer’s former opponents be  back in the fray come election time next March?Speaking of Third District Commissioner Jerry Butler there is a

Jerry Butler has been in office since 1986

the persistent buzz among the insiders at the county building that his health will prevent him from seeking another term. So it makes sense for commissioner detractors to focus on his replacement.

We also have Commissioner Richard Boykin who represents the county’s First District. Boykin has made no secret about the possibility of challenging Ms. Precwkinkle in the upcoming election. If that comes to fruition then West Side residents and those in the western suburbs will be voting for a new commissioner, not looking to vote anyone out of office.

Commissioner Richard Boykin may be Toni Preckwinkle’s most formidable challenger

The feelings of betrayal, insolence, and that the tax is a money-grab are not only understandable but expected. County officials did a horrid job of initially explaining the need for the tax, how it will be applied, and why not another commodity.

Regardless of the number of commissioners, who lose their seats come March, as residents we have to be more diligent, aggressive, and attention to what happens at every level of government even when it is just in the proposal stage.

Serve and Protect and Ticket

Like 99.9999 percent of the people I have met, I have never run a police department or been a police officer. My guess is it is a job that has components us civilians can’t understand. One component that comes to mind is with  Chicago on track to at least equal the 3,000-shootings that occurred in 2016, and CPD clearance rates of homicides still below the 30 percent mark; why are police officers writing tickets in residential areas at night.

EighthWard Alderman Michelle Harris

The city’s Eighth Ward is home to two exceptionally popular night spots – The Family Den and the Dating Game Lounge. The side-by-side locations in the 8900 block of Stony Island attract Millennials, octogenarians and just about everyone in between.

Parking on Stony Island fills up early and stays that way for much of the night. Club latecomers are relegated to spots a few blocks unless they want to risk a parking ticket. That’s right even at 11 p.m. CPD SUVs pull up on the street immediately west of Stony and start writing tickets.

This has to be one of the most extreme revenue hustles in Chicago. Isn’t there a better use of CPD personnel than writing tickets at night? Yes, these men and women enjoying the clubs are parked illegally, but wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to give overtime to some of those same people we see walking the street during the day issuing tickets? It simply seems that with crime at its current level, Alderman Michelle Harris would push Chief Eddie Johnson to have officers fan out into the parts of the ward where the real crime is going on. The move obviously is not a deterrent as on any given night every available parking spot on that street-Harper-are took for at least a couple of blocks from the clubs.

Nothing is safe from the watchful eye of CPD ticket enforcers 

CPD police officers go through extensive training to become part of the department. They bring a special skill set not found in the general public. It’s insulting to put that training on the back burner so the city can get a few more bucks. Is the ticket writing part of why the city has been shelling out more than $100,000 in overtime pay the last few years?

Sure, the city is making money on the tickets. One has to wonder though, wouldn’t they make even more if those lower on the pay scale were doing the work? Check the math Superintendent Johnson.

Are we ready for a Black mayor or governor?


EDITOR’S NOTE: Not too long ago an informal discussion occurred among a handful of Black men re: the political future of Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers and what was the outlook for him as a candidate for governor or mayor of Chicago. As a result of that discussion lifelong Chicagoan, Antwan Dobson was invited to pen his opinions on the general topic of a Black mayor for Chicago. His observations are below, immediately followed by my thoughts on a Black mayor, and that running for governor might be Mr. Summers’ best bet.

Continue reading “Are we ready for a Black mayor or governor?”

Rahm should follow the leader

Instead of repeatedly throwing ideas against a wall to see if any stick Mayor Rahm Emanuel should follow the lead of the Office of Neighborhood Safety in Richmond, CA.,http://_wp_link_placehol der

Gun violence
The mayor should admit he is clueless when it comes to reducing violence

where shootings have dropped precipitously. It has been reported countless times that Mr. Emanuel usually believes he is the smartest person in the room. When it comes to solving the violence issue he doesn’t get a C.

Understandably it is not the mayor’s job to make sure gun violence doesn’t get out of control; but it is his obligation as the city’s C.E.O. to make our streets as safe as possible. That is where he is failing miserably. Continue reading “Rahm should follow the leader”

Police superintendent can make a difference

Superintendent Eddie Johnson
Superintendent Eddie Johnson has a tough road ahead convincing residents CPD will be different

It’s difficult to watch a news conference or interview with Chicago police superintendent-in-waiting Eddie Johnson and not think about music. For  Johnson it’s the Mission Impossible theme song that seems to be playing in the background. When Mayor Rahm Emanuel arrives to talk police, Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” looms in the distance.  Mr. Johnson takes the helm of the Chicago Police Department when local law enforcement controversy is at an all time high.

Chicago is poised to pay another $4.9 million to the family whose son was subjected to repeated Tasing by CPD officers and drug handcuffed from a cell into a hallway. Click here to read Chicago Tribune story. It is the second such payment in less than six weeks. So Johnson, who took office in the last week of March, is charged with not only turning around what some see as a rogue culture w/in CPD; but getting folks on the South and West sides to see CPD in a less-harmful, less-threatening light. Animosity over the  murder of unarmed 16-year-old Laquan McDonald by former CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke simmers just below the surface in those community. That is Mr. Johnson’s Mission Impossible. Young McDonald’s family also is scheduled to receive a $5 million wrongful death payment. Continue reading “Police superintendent can make a difference”

Put less focus on voter registration

While plethora organizations and individual opt to affect change in the political process by conducting voter registration drives, the DVC philosophy is it critical to work to get the one million registered, but inactive Chicago voters to the polls.

This approach can VoteSticker_FINALbetter utilize the energy expended to find, register and inform those who have yet to register. Reaching out to those already registers is more efficient too because:

  • Their whereabouts are largely known
  • Unless they have moved or married and changed their names, the old registration is still good
  • Their reasons/explanations for not voting can prove invaluable in crafting future GOTV campaigns

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Do we need a third political party?

♦Editor’s note: The 2016 presidential primary campaign has been one of the most contentious and vile in recent memory. The level of acrimony has re-ignited in many circles the call for a third political party. DePriest Voters Chronicles, in hopes of facilitating meaningful dialogue on that topic will offer readers a series of essays from everyday citizens on the pros and cons, as well as whether there is a necessity to have a choice besides Democrats and Republicans. 

The level of outright nastiness, lies and revisionist history we are seeing at the presidential nomination campaign level can be described as nothing less than shameful. America has seen vitriol in politics, but not to the level we are witnessing today. While the Republican presidential primary bears a remarkable resemblance to a school yard fight; and the Democratic run is only slightly better. One truth is extremely clear. America needs a third political party. Discussions and examinations of the issues has taken a backseat to presidential aspirants playing the dozens.

Dissatisfaction with both major parties has some voters calling for the establishment of a third political party
Dissatisfaction with both major parties has some voters calling for the establishment of a third political party.

Continue reading “Do we need a third political party?”

When Rahm leaves, then what?

Amidst all of the clamor for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign in light of his refusal to release CPD dashcam video of a white veteran police officer shooting an unarmed Black teen 16 times, the question not being asked is what if the mayor does quit, then what? We know that should the mayor opt of completing his term – the most unlikely of any scenarios – Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward is in line to serve as interim mayor.

Brendan Reilly, Rahm Emanuel successor, Chicago City Council,
Alderman Reilly’s ascent to the mayor’s office, although temporary, will cause chaos.

His council colleagues will then set a date for a special election to fulfill Mr. Emanuel’s unfinished term. Next we should expect a mad scramble of  real contenders, also-rans, and perennials to start courting voters. There’s been no shortage of job-seekers for the city’s top post in the last two elections. In the foreseeable future, there is no reason for that scenario to change much. We should expect to see at least one major new mayoral candidate name in the scrum,

Her ties to the business community and statewide name recognition positions her as a potentially prolific fund-raiser
Her ties to the business community and statewide name recognition positions her as a potentially prolific fund-raiser

and that is president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Public Building Commissioner (PBC) Mariyana Spyropoulos. She is a Democrat with strong ties to the business community and brings tremendous fundraising capabilities. Her PBC role provides her insights about the city’s future development that her opponents won’t have. As a millennial Caucasian, female, M.B.A., attorney, Ms. Spyropoulos will bring a background to the race not seen in decades. Currently, there isn’t much conversation about her potential candidacy, but she surely is among the credible to keep an eye on. A Rahm resignation would not give her enough time to complete her biggest hurdles – connecting with and being embraced by African-American voters, but should he remain another three years, that is plenty of time for her to accomplish that mission.

Continue reading “When Rahm leaves, then what?”