Former CPS CEO endorses Chico for mayor

November 23, 2010 (CHICAGO)

A former Chicago Public Schools CEO is putting his support behind one of the 20 candidates who filed petitions. And a possible court challenge looms over the residency of another candidate.

On Wednesday, a well-known election attorney is expected to file a challenge to Rahm Emanuel's status as a resident of the city. One mayoral candidate said Tuesday Emanuel should be taken off the ballot.

Meanwhile, Paul Vallas returned to Chicago to endorse his former colleague. Sporting a goatee and a thinner frame, Vallas gave a boost to former school board president Gery Chico's campaign for mayor.

"I don't think there is a person in this country who is more prepared to run a big city than Gery Chico, because for all practical purposes he has played such a critical role in assisting the mayor in managing this city," Vallas said.

Fifteen years ago, Mayor Daley tapped Chico and Vallas to oversee the takeover of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to that, the duo worked together at various high profile positions at City Hall.

Despite their long working relationship, Chico did not endorse Vallas when he ran against Rod Blagoevich for governor in 2002.

So, does a Vallas endorsement matter in the mayor's race?

"I think it helps Gery because if he is going to be competitive in this, he has to run on his resume, and without a question he has had the most jobs in city government," said Paul Green, professor of political science, Roosevelt University.

Chico is one of 20 candidates running for mayor. But the field is likely to shrink as legal challenges are filed.

On behalf of unnamed Chicago residents, election attorney Burt Odelson is expected to fight Rahm Emanuel's residency status. Mayoral candidate Danny Davis will not be challenging it but believes Emanuel should be taken off the ballot based on the law.

"I don't think this idea that, oh, we should just forget about that, we'll forget about the law, that the law applies to some people but maybe not all," said Davis.

While touring the Greater Chicago Food Despository Tuesday, Emanuel did not answer reporters' questions. Chico, meanwhile, repeated his position on Emanuel's residency.

"For the tenth time, I'm not going to challenge Rahm Emanuel's residency," he said.

The James Meeks campaign for mayor says it will not be challenging Emanuel's residency status, although it was Burt Odelson who filed for Rev. Meeks Monday.

Emanuel is confident he will beat the challenge. He says qualifies for the ballot because he left Chicago on a temporary basis to take the White House job and always intended to return.

Candidates, as well as voters, have until November 30 to challenge.

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