It had the look and the excitement of a political convention, and indeed it was: a convention of Chicago’s grassroots…
At the beginning of the New Chicago 2011 mayoral forum, held Tuesday evening at the UIC Forum, members took turns calling out their organizations from the podium, and in turn each section erupted in cheers.
It’s likely to be the largest crowd for a mayoral forum all season – well over 2,000 people — but for some reason, you won’t hear much about it in the city’s mainstream media…
In his opening statement, Del Valle drew the clearest line between his campaign and Emanuel’s, telling the audience, “You understand the need for a neighborhood agenda, not a downtown agenda, not a big business agenda, but a neighborhood agenda.”
When the candidates were asked about immigration reform, Del Valle drew the most sustained applause of the evening, attacking Emanuel as “the one individual most responsible for blocking immigration reform, as a congressman, as chief of staff,” continuing to a passionate crescendo over the rising cheers of the crowd: “How can we expect him to protect the residents of this city’s neighborhoods?”
He also made a clearest distinction with Emanuel’s program for schools: “We can’t continue to set up parallel systems of education, on one track selective enrollment, magnets and charters, on the other track neighborhood schools. It’s time to strengthen neighborhood schools.”
And here’s an interview with Dr. Quentin Young
(a longtime hero, activist for equality, a big advocate for Harold Washington and single payer health care) on how Miguel can finish off Rahm in the qualifying race:
Q: What do you like about del Valle?
A: He’s atypically straight-laced, clean, effective and committed for a Chicago pol. None of the other candidates come close to Miguel for leadership both in the legislature [he was a state senator for 23 years] and as City Clerk. He hasn’t gotten rich; he doesn’t give favors. He was an early supporter of [Harold] Washington, and I think you can see in his style and politics—what Washington tried to do for the city…
Q: During the residency hearing, Rahm seemed so calm, so polite.
A: While Rahm conducted himself impressively, I don’t think he can withstand the give-and-take of the primary race. I think the part of him that I find politically unattractive—the boss mentality, “take no prisoners” attitude, will emerge.
Of course, the interviewer can’t keep his mind off of Rahm long enough to keep it positive. But, for my Single-Payer Health Care-focused mind, there’s some money right here:
Q: So what’s wrong with the new national healthcare plan?
A: It won’t solve any problems. Costs have risen since it passed and will continue to do so. Having a bill that squeaked through puts a break on serious reform. [Young blames Emanuel, “a powerful mobilizer of the Democratic vote,” for the three-vote margin in the House].
Q: Would you have been happier had no bill passed?
A: Yes, it would be better to have a clean slate.
Young, the former chairman of medicine of Cook County Hospital, is a healthcare activist who heads Physicians For a National Health Program, a Chicago-based non-profit that lobbies for a single-payer health care system. A Hyde Park acquaintance of Barack Obama’s, Young sat on the committee Obama created to draft a health care plan that would cover all Illinoisans. Young’s Movement roots go deep: he provided medical care to civil rights demonstrators in the South, and protestors at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He also served as a physician to Martin Luther King Jr., Harold Washington and Studs Terkel.
The hits keep coming, of course. But without the big platform and name of an Obama staffer, without the resources of a millionaire politician intricately connected to big business who could pull ads out of his backside, with cold weather keeping people (like me) indoors, and with a huge gap that needs to be tightened within a few short weeks, can Miguel pull ahead to give Rahm a run for his money? I would like to believe so. All this positive media coverage only gives me more hope.
I mean, we’re talking about a Chicago pol who didn’t accept a security detai
l. I mean, how anti-Machine is that? We’re talking a pol in the 21st Century who isn’t taking money from mega-corporations or Chicago vendors. How gangsta anti-Machine
is that? And what does the city need right now more than anti-Machine?