Alderman Hairston refutes reports of run for mayor

August 10, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The 5th Ward's Leslie Hairston was awakened Tuesday morning by phone callers congratulating the South Side alderman for considering a run for mayor. That's when Hairston says she realized a Chicago newspaper had gotten the story wrong and overstated her near-term ambition.

"That is really reassuring to know that there are people behind you. But, you know, right now, I'm focused on the aldermanic piece," said Hairston.

Alderman Hairston said The Sun-Times reporter misunderstood when the three-term alderman reportedly said she was considering a run for mayor, a candidacy that would require Hairston to give up her seat on the City Council.

"I am running fo re-election. I am not giving up my seat to run for anything else," Hairston said.

"Why wouldn't she consider a possible mayor's race at some point in the future? That's what that conversation was about," said Delmarie Cobb, a political consultant.

Cobb advised Hairston not to rule out a future mayoral bid. But Cobb does not discourage other contenders, saying six-term Mayor Richard M. Daley -- with an approval rating at a reported 37 percent -- is vulnerable in 2011.

"You have an anti-incumbent sentiment that's out there that's growing every day, and as I said, you've got a budget deficit that's clearly out of hand," said Cobb.

Daley, at a back to school breakfast Tuesday morning, is officially undecided on a seventh term.

"One day I hope to stand here as mayor of the City of Chicago," said Corey Hardiman, addressing students and the mayor at Corliss High School.

Mayor Daley advised the ambitious teenager not to run any time soon.

"He has to first finish his education. That's the most important. Remember to always finish your education, that is the key," said Daley.

So far, the only confirmed possible 2011 mayoral contenders are Lincoln Park Alderman Scott Waguespack and Cook County Assessor James Houlihan.

Hairston, one of the few aldermen to oppose Daley's parking meter deal, says the time has already passed for anyone to seriously challenge the incumbent.

"For something of this magnitude, you would have to have the organization, you would have to have the plan, you had to have the money, you'd have to able to get out there on TV now," Hairston said.

With the city elections only six months away, Mayor Daley still has not formed a re-election campaign committee or held a fundraising event. But, when you've held the office for over 20 years and there's no definite challenger, what's the rush?

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