Latinos predict big impact on mayoral race

September 9, 2010 3:39:10 PM PDT
Neighborhood political groups will have a big impact on who will be the next mayor of Chicago. Those organizations are already discussing their strategy for the next election.

From a distance, they appeared to be ten friends having a late breakfast in a Southwest Side Mexican restaurant. But the meeting among Latino grassroots political organizers was about the 2011 Chicago mayor's race.

"Whoever is going to be mayor is going to be someone who's going to have to relate to the entire community in Chicago," said Omar Lopez, Chicago Latino Coalition 2011.

On Wednesday night, Puerto Rico-born City Clerk Miguel del Valle expressed his interest in a possible campaign.

Earlier on Wednesday, the City Council's Black Caucus began their discussions. The aldermen - joined by U.S. congressman Bobby Rush and city treasurer Stephanie Neely - will consider anointing a black candidate after they organize a nationwide fundraising effort.

"We want to make sure that our ward gets its fair share of whomever is going to be elected to the mayor's position," said Ald. Walter Burnette, 27th Ward.

The Latinos say their issues - jobs, education and public safety - mirror those in the African American community and hopefully will lead to a coalition.

"This is not about race. This is about the interests, political and economic interests of our community and we share a lot of commonalities with the African American community," said Jorge Mujica, community activist

"In 1989 when I ran for mayor I got six percent of the African American vote," said Daley.

Outgoing Mayor Richard Daley counts ending the racial politics that divided Chicago during the late 1980s as part of his legacy. He said there are more important factors to consider than race.

"What everybody wants is an individual that will be as passionate as anyone else, as committed and hardworking," said Daley.

Those attending the Southwest Side meeting agreed that Latinos in 2011 will account for anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the city vote, and possibly determine the mayoral race outcome.

"I think we're going to have an impact to decide who is the next mayor of the City of Chicago," said Lopez.

Over a dozen people may have expressed some interest in running for mayor in the two days since Mayor Daley announced his retirement. If half a dozen are still in the hunt by Election Day, candidates might need less than 25 percent of the vote to get into the runoff.


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