Emanuel, Garcia participate in South Side forum

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands of early voters have already cast ballots, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cmsr. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia have less than two weeks of campaigning left.

On Thursday night, both mayoral candidates made their cases at a South Side forum before a mostly African American audience.

"As we hire, we seek to ensure that every department looks like the city of Chicago and its people," Garcia said.

"We are not to going to be the city we need to be and want to be for our kids if we don't find what's our commonality," Emanuel said.

In separate Q-and-A sessions with ABC 7's Charles Thomas, Garcia said he supports an expanded sales tax on luxury items. Garcia said Mayor Emanuel has catered to wealthy CEO cronies for too long.

When asked to name one of those cronies, Garcia responded: "Ken Griffin. Ken Griffin, the wealthiest man in Illinois. You want another one? Penny Pritzker."

The mayor defended his decision to close 50 neighborhood schools.

"I didn't just walk into one challenge. I walked into a series of challenges, from financial, capital, to educationally," Emanuel said.

From the audience, there was at least one "gotcha" question: "Can you name two of your favorite African-American restaurants on the South Side and the West Side of Chicago?"

"Chicken and Waffles, that I was at today in Bronzeville. And Mother's Wade's restaurant," Emanuel said.

The mayor initially declined to attend this forum, but changed his mind in the face of mounting criticism, underscoring the importance of the black vote.
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