Politicians work crowds at 26th Street parade

September 12, 2010 (CHICAGO) None of them would commit to throwing their names in the race, but supporters of one candidate are making their opinions known.

Currently, only person has officially thrown his name into the race.

Sunday's parade took on new political significance after Mayor Daley's surprising announcement last week that he won't seek re-election.

Thousands lined 26th Street to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence. And for many, it was also a day to celebrate the first open mayoral seat in 21 years.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez used friendly territory to gather the required signatures to get on the ballot.

"Everyone has a base. Everyone has a community to begin the campaign. I'm just going to walk the parade as I've done year in and year out and collect a few signatures and think about a more formal announcement later on," Gutierrez said.

No formal announcement has come yet, but Gutierrez t-shirts and signs were all over.

Political experts if say Gutierrez wants to become Chicago's first Latino mayor, reaching well beyond his base is a must to win.

"To look for a mayor, you have to go beyond the Latino community because the Latino community, of the three major groups, produces the least votes. You'll have to be one of the main players. That's a big leap," said political science professor Paul Green.

Others interested in Chicago's top job were also just getting their feet wet at Sunday's parade before making the decision to take the plunge.

"It's a tough decision. It is easy to campaign. It is easy to throw name in the race. It is difficult to govern this city, and anybody doesn't realize that is fooling themselves and should get out of the race," said 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti

Fioretti says despite his desire to possibly run for mayor, he says that was not his sole motivation for showing up at Sunday's parade.

"This is my third my third year that I've been here. It's nothing new for me," Fioretti said.

The parade is old hat for city colleges Chairman Gery Chico and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Both men are also mulling a run for mayor.

"A lot of people are asking me to look at it. I told them I would. I told them I would look at the issue of whether I want to do it or not and whether or not I can bring the right things to the table," said Dart.

So far, the only confirmed candidate at Sunday's parade was Chicago's City Clerk Miguel del Valle.

"What is important is the same thing that is important to all of the residents of the city of Chicago. That is the quality of public education, public safety. They want their children to be safe and their families to be safe," said Miguel del Valle.

Safety, education and job creation were the three priorities every potential candidate talked about Sunday. While he was not Sunday's parade, Rev. State Sen. James Meeks began collecting signatures Saturday on the South Side.

Law requires candidates to gather 12,500 signatures by November to make the February election's ballot, but many say signature-gathering is easy compared to raising money for a mayor run.

Congressman Gutierrez says he will make his decision very soon.

ABC7 was proud to have a float in the 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade again this year. Ravi Baichwal was there along with Steve Dolinsky, John Garcia, and many younger members of their families.

The parade will be broadcast Sunday at 11:35 p.m. on ABC7 with host Theresa Gutierrez. It will also be available Monday on ABC7Chicago.com.

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