Mayoral candidates trying to keep focus on issues

January 26, 2011 4:17:14 PM PST
Should city employees be required to reside in Chicago? That became a campaign issue Wednesday in the race for mayor as the candidates await the Illinois Supreme Court's decision on whether Rahm Emanuel can remain on the election ballot.

Despite the distraction of a pending Supreme Court ruling, the candidates are trying keep their focus on the issues. One released his plan to hire more cops, while others took on the question of whether those who collect city paychecks should continue to be required to live in Chicago.

After breakfast with a group of supportive veterans, Rahm Emanuel said he had already answered a labor union questionnaire that he is open to discussing the idea of ending the residency requirement for city workers and teachers.

"So I said in the questionnaire, was I open? Yes. Would I be conclusive now? No, because you have to weigh equities," said Emanuel.

Gery Chico revived the controversy Tuesday when he said that he, too, would consider changing the requirement that city employees live in Chicago.

Rejecting the idea, Miguel del Valle told ABC7 that Chico was pandering to city employee unions, and Carol Moseley Braun wrote that "Chico would be better advised to focus on how to strengthen Chicago's middle class, not sacrificing its future for political gain."

Wednesday, Chico said discussion of a residency requirement change is only talk.

"When we say talk about the idea, that doesn't mean do the idea. We said talk about it," Chico said.

Chico was joined Wednesday afternoon by a murder victim's mother and the police union president to announce his plan to fight crime, which includes hiring 2,000 additional police officers by the end of his first term.

"Gangs are a menace in our city, and we will take that problem on head on," said Chico.

Former gang enforcer and ex-convict turned community activist and urban translator Wallace "Gator" Bradley announced his support for Chico Wednesday morning.

"I met with him today and shared with him how I can assist him with winning the election," said Bradley.

"If he endorsed me, I take the endorsement," said Chico.

At first, Chico seemed not to remember the meeting earlier Wednesday reported by Bradley. Then the candidate added:

"If somebody has paid their time and has shown a record of civic responsibility, and you're asking me whether or not they're going to volunteer to help my campaign, I see nothing wrong with that," said Chico.

Chico also said, without being specific, he could find the money to hire 2,000 more police officers by 2015. Chico says anyone who could not find the money in the current budget for hiring more cops should not be running for mayor.