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Paul Vallas 'very serious' about running for Chicago mayor

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Eyewitness News Political Reporter Craig Wall sat down with Paul Vallas Thursday afternoon in his first TV interview about a possible run for mayor. (WLS)

Just days after his firing from Chicago State University, Paul Vallas has set his sights set on Chicago's City Hall.

Eyewitness News Political Reporter Craig Wall sat down with Paul Vallas Thursday afternoon in his first TV interview about a possible run for mayor. Vallas said he is very serious about running for mayor, but he has not made an official decision just yet.

"I'm very serious, very serious. I want to run, I intend on running," Vallas said.

Vallas said he needs to gauge whether he can raise enough money, before he decides whether to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2019.

Vallas was fired Monday night as a Chief Administrative Officer at Chicago State University. But he said he had already given notice he was leaving so he could pursue public office.

"I decided in November and communicated to the President that I was going to," Vallas said.

Vallas has twice run for public office, losing the 2001 primary to Rod Blagojevich by less than two points. He was Pat Quinn's Lt. Governor running mate in 2014, a race they would lose to Bruce Rauner. He was also Mayor Daley's Budget Director and CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

"My goal here is really to run an issue-oriented campaign, to focus on the critical issues, and to offer with great specificity, specific recommendations that I think can address those issues," he said.

Vallas sees Mayor Emanuel as vulnerable because of what he calls the city's financial crisis.
The mayor's campaign spokesman fired back, saying in a statement; "For seven years, Mayor Emanuel and the taxpayers of Chicago have been trying to dig out of the massive pension hole Paul Vallas dug, when as city budget director and head of Chicago Public Schools he was the architect of the pension disaster, skipping pension payment after pension payment."

Vallas said that when he left CPS, the pensions were fully funded.
When asked about another touchy issue, the Laquan McDonald shooting video that was kept from being released to the public before the last mayoral election. It's an issue for which Emanuel later took a lot of heat.

"You can't say on one hand that you're this hands-on manager and the other hand say, 'Oh my god, I didn't know there was a video,'" Vallas said.

Vallas said in 2019, trust will be a key issue.

"So at the end of the day you've got to ask yourself by giving the mayor four more years, I mean can we really trust him to navigate the city in the right direction," he said.

Vallas said he will make a decision after the March 20 primary. He considers himself a problem solver and despite the cities' financial situation, he said he's never been afraid to take on tough problems.

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