Chuy Garcia says he will rid city of red light cameras if elected

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In the race for Chicago mayor, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia promised to get rid of the city's red light cameras if he defeats Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the runoff election.

Seizing on the unpopular red light cameras, Garcia promises to end the program. However, the candidate did not offer any ideas on how he would make up for the program's lost revenue. Garcia says his position is about safety not the city budget.

As for the controversial red light cameras, polls have shown Chicagoans don't like them. And now, with five weeks until a runoff, neither does Garcia.

"It's time to end the red light rip off, I will do it on day one no more tickets," Garcia said.

Garcia's promise to end the program is a change of position on the issue. A few months ago, he said he would only keep the cameras that proved to reduce accidents. The candidate says his change of heart follows a published report that links a Rahm Emanuel former congressional aide to the company that operates the cameras.

"He can't end it because he is joined as the hip with the same special interests who are making millions on this deal," Garcia said.

The mayor says the cameras save lives and keep police on the beat fighting gangs and guns, rather than writing speeding tickets. The cameras also bring in revenue. Garcia would not say how the city would recoup money generated by red light tickets.

"The program was a lie to the citizens of Chicago from beginning, it was about them bearing responsibility of balancing budget," Garcia said.

Touring the new merchandise mart offices of the online company Yelp on Thursday, Mayor Emanuel would not take reporters' questions responding to Garcia's new position on red light cameras. The mayor would only talk about more jobs coming to downtown.

"This is going to be 400 jobs, so call your friends and tell them to move to Chicago," Emanuel said.

Former candidate Willie Wilson has big questions about the cameras, too. At what he's calling a "listening tour" event, Wilson promised to use the public's input before making an endorsement next week.

While he would not take questions, the Emanuel campaign sent out a red light camera fact sheet. It says as a Cook County Commissioner, Garcia voted for red light cameras after taking a campaign contribution from a red light operator.

A spokesperson said late Thursday that Mayor Emanuel will move to add countdown clocks at intersections to better inform drivers of when lights will change.
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