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.

Presidential candidates shun Black voters.

Some remember the monumental Black National Political Convention held in Gary, In in March 1972. It was convened by former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher and author/activist Amari Baraka and Michigan Congressman Charlie Diggs, both of the latter are now deceased. It was the first time a collective of African Americans exclusively set out to forge an agenda in America focus solely on Black people. This weekend June 10 and 11, the same mission, with another group of African Americans from all walks of life is set to take up the mantle from 1972.

Bobby Seale and Jesse Jackson
Back Panther leader Bobby Seale confers with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the 1972 National Black Political Convention

The main difference this year is that the top three presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, all were invited to address the convention and be part of a panel discussion. Guess what? Despite a Black captive audience, a near-guarantee of national media exposure, and the opportunity to rebut some of the criticism leveled against them by Black backers, all three refused the invitation. Their refusal speaks volumes about how little they regard connecting with Black voters. Continue reading “Presidential candidates shun Black voters.”

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”