Today marks one of the most important mayoral elections for the city of Chicago in over 40 years, and lots of Chicagoans — including SAIC students — have an opinion. To see what the locals are actually thinking, a group of SAIC students hit the streets, questioning people about who they might be voting for, and which are the most important issues in this election. Here’s what they had to say.
By Phil Gambini
Tywouend Webster, 37, sat on the sill of a Michigan Avenue high-rise building on Monday night. He is homeless, cold and jangling a dirty plastic cup, both from his shivering and as an appeal for strangers’ spare change.
The exuberance in his voice betrayed the shaking in his body. “Rahm is my man,” he said, “I like the way he operates.” Webster went on to explain Chicago’s need for a disciplined and uncouth leader, asking pointedly where Mayor Daley was during the recent snowstorm, when city streets became choked by drifts. “Out of town,” he answered himself.
Concerning Rahm Emanuel’s opponents, Webster was vehement. Despite former Senator Carol Moseley Braun being the only prominent African-American candidate running for Mayoral office, he was assured she would not win the majority of the black vote. He elaborated that her insistent response of “lock em’ up,” in reference to the already burgeoning Illinois prison population, was an impossible model to follow and one detrimental to the health of the state.
“The only thing I don’t like about [Emanuel],” Webster concluded, “is the way he raising taxes.”
Tonya Wilson is a 28-year-old resident. She, too, is cold on this February Monday. She is dressed in a clean coat, scarf and heels. Unsure of whom she is voting for on the eve of the election, Wilson expressed one thing with certainty: she will not be voting for Emanuel. “He’s an outsider,” Wilson said. “He is too much of a celebrity.” Wilson referenced Emanuel’s false Twitter account, a profanity laced mock-up of the former Clinton and Obama administrations’ staffer and his two high-profile brothers.
Wilson also commented on what she described as Emanuel’s search for a position of importance. She thinks that his living in the city for a short amount of time also labels him as an outsider and that the recent Illinois Supreme Court case has only further tarnished his ability to appear as a true Chicagoan. Wilson said of Emanuel’s campaign, “It is for prominence instead of for people.”