COAL Commentary – A Message Has Been Sent
CHICAGO, Illinois May 1, 2015 –
April 7, 2015 goes into the history books as Chicago’s first mayoral runoff. Incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel won with 56 percent of the votes and said in his victory speech “To all the voters, I want to thank you for putting me through my paces. I will be a better mayor because of that. I will carry your voices, your concerns into the mayor’s office.”
Our voices. Our concerns.
Chicagoans surprised pundits and politicos by forcing a runoff because they are frustrated and tired. Tired of issues that are strangling us and diminishing our quality of life. Closed schools. Rising cost of living. Shrinking middle class. Violence and crime. Four long years leading the nation in murders. Crumbling infrastructure. Parking fees. Redlight cameras in some neighborhoods and not in others. Joblessness. Homelessness. Population loss.
Millions of dollars in pension bills that need to be paid. Budget deficits. Water rates that have doubled. Police misconduct and excessive force. Neglected and broken neighborhoods surrounding the Loop – the fastest growing neighborhood in the city. Debates about where to put the Obama presidential library when our public libraries are open half a day every Monday.
April 8, 2015 was the day that began our chance to do something different. Be something different. We must use our voices differently. We must make sure we hold Mayor Emanuel and the City Council accountable in the next four years in ways we did not during the past four. We must continue to raise the hard questions about where our taxes go and who is sitting in the room when the decisions are made. We must demand the city work for everyone.
To do so means working beyond personality, race, class, neighborhood, gender, religion and sexual orientation. We need to build a movement that focuses on issues. If not we will become the city Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia described in his concession speech, one filled with “forgotten people” the city “cannot care for”. Mayor Emanuel has said he heard the call for “One Chicago.”
A powerful spirit and energy was ignited in Chicago during this election. Let’s make sure it grows and does not diminish.
Pick an issue or two or three. Pay attention. Make sure the people who won in February and the night of the 7th are working for you. Working for the entire city. And when they don’t, make sure they hear your voice. Loud, clear, strong and often.
In the words of Frederick Douglass, “power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will”.
The people of Chicago demanded a runoff for the first time ever. And now that the results are in, we have a responsibility to keep making the demand that they do the work they were chosen to do.
Those that made it back into Office and those that we elected for the first time need to continue to hear from us – let us endeavor to make Power concede to our Demand.
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