We endorse Carol Moseley Braun for Mayor Feb. 22

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For the first time in more than five decades, there won't be a Daley on the ballot for mayor of Chicago.

That alone would make the Feb. 22 election historic, but it also happens to fall on the same day that Harold Washington was elected to his first term in 1983. There is also the promise that this election will produce a city council that actually serves its constituents, instead of doing the bidding of Mayor Richard M. Daley.

But this isn't Daley's election, and it isn't Harold's election. This is YOUR election.

It is your election to determine the direction of this city for the next generation, and to determine just what kind of leadership this city will have.

In pursuit of that leadership, several community groups sought to find the "consensus" candidate that would draw the support of the entire Black community. It was a process fraught with obstacles, chief being that the Black community has never been monolithic. Deciding just what is best for 1 million African Americans in this city is something that can only be left up to those 1 million people, who tend to resist being classified, and resist even more being told what to do.

But the flawed process was helpful in identifying those who were frauds, those who clearly didn't measure up, and those who simply didn't have the stomach for the kind of bare-knuckle campaigning that is Chicago politics.

And the process did draw out a candidate with an incredible set of qualifications that are head and shoulders above all others. A candidate who has proven over a stellar career of public service that has ranged from the Illinois State Senate, to the State's attorney's office, to Cook County Recorder of Deeds, to the United States Senate and to two ambassadorships abroad. She is one of only two candidates to win citywide office, and the only one to win a statewide office.

That candidate is Carol Moseley Braun.

We wish she had run a smoother campaign, and had not allowed herself to be drawn into petty arguments with marginal candidates. We wish that she had chosen a more politically sophisticated camp to get her message out.

But the bottom line is that of these half dozen candidates, Carol Moseley Braun is clearly the most qualified. She has expressed a vision for Chicago that doesn't hide behind Daley's machine, that doesn't stress Washington connections, isn't simply beholden to an association with Mayor Washington from a quarter of a century ago, isn't a quixotic exercise with marginal support, and isn't built upon community activism and little else.

While some voters will wag their tongues about "temperament," they seem to forget who is the current occupant of the mayor's office, and forget the bombast of the past 22 years. We're still embarrassed by some of the things that have come out of Richard Daley's mouth as the mayor the city. It was just Richie being Richie, and he gets a pass. It was Rahm Emanuel who mailed a dead fish to a pollster and is known for his "colorful" language. No one is "tsk-tsking" about Emanuel's temperament. He was Rahm being Rahm.

Carol Moseley Braun has apologized for her indiscretions on the campaign trail and a campaign "crack" should not undermine her 30 years of stellar public service.

That Carol Moseley Braun isn't first in the polls is not a function of her message or her qualifications, but more than likely the result of multi-millions of dollars raised by one of her opponents, who seemed to swoop back into town with the blessing of his former boss, President Barack Obama, and suck all of the air and suspense out of the mayoral race.

The reality is that Rahm Emanuel has not shown that he has a grasp on Chicago, with a flawed plan for righting Chicago's listing financial ship or addressing Chicago's abysmal public school problems or altering the perception that crime is running rampant in some of our neighborhoods. Emanuel had to be introduced to our neighborhoods, because he had no idea where they were, and still has no idea who lives there.

More importantly, Emanuel has shown no affinity for those 1 million African Americans in Chicago. His voting record in Washington ran counter to Black interests, and he presided over the part of the Bill Clinton administration that tore wide holes in the safety net under the guise of "welfare reform." His response to the question at the Chicago Defender debate about reparations for descendents of slaves suggested that the nation could not afford reparations because of our budget deficit. He doesn't suggest that Israel wait on U.S. aid while we deal with our budget deficit, but he suggests that descendents of Americans who built this nation ought to wait until economic conditions are better.

Candidate Gery Chico has tried to position himself as the anti-Rahm, and in doing so has bent so far to the right that he has even tried to fit himself under the mantle of the Tea Party (which has, as one of its main objectives, making sure Obama is a one-term president). He has since said he would not accept the Tea Party endorsement, while his campaign spokesman said it was her candidate's attempt to represent ALL Chicagoans. Whose endorsement would he NOT accept?

Chico's touting of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsement and promising to add 2,000 more police officers, in the midst of a $600 million deficit is the worst kind of pandering.

We're curious about Miguel del Valle's campaign. He seems to say the right things, but he never gives the impression that he expects to win, or even make a good showing. This race doesn't need a protest candidate, it needs a qualified mayoral candidate.

William "Dock" Walls is an earnest, thoughtful person, who has run in several contests. He describes his run last year for governor as a "dry run" and notes he was never on the ballot. But this is his second run for mayor, and he still has gained no further qualifications for the position beyond being an aide to Harold Washington two decades ago. Since then, aside from running for office, he has done nothing to earn a vote for this most important position.

We are also intrigued by Patricia Van Pelt Watkins. She has burst onto the scene and positioned herself as the people's candidate. However, most of her support has come from her pastor, and it is not clear what relationship her pastor would have with a Mayor Watkins. However, her energy, intelligence and outspokenness would make her an able public servant, just as her record shows she has been a good community servant.

While the pollsters suggest that there are five candidates vying for second place next Tuesday, voters don't go to the pollsters, we go to the polls. That is where we can elect the most qualified person for the job of mayor, not the one with the most money or the one who ran the best campaign or the one who has the closest ties with the outgoing mayor. This is not the time to simply throw votes at the leader in the polls to attempt to ride with a winner. That is how you get 22 years of Richard M. Daley, with a plurality of Black votes.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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