After all the handshakes, El stops, churches, forums, and press conferences, it comes down to this. Chicago voters head to the polls today to select a new mayor for the first time since 1989. Last-minute campaigning is taking place across the city as the six candidates for mayor look to solidify the votes to put them in command of City Hall.
Rahm Emanuel, who hopes to secure over 50 percent of the vote and avoid a run-off, is having lunch at Manny's Deli, the iconic sandwich shop that is a regular stop for politicos. Gery Chico voted mid-morning and was reportedly just the 46th voter at his precinct, which echoes the low turnout that Progress Illinois found in polling places on the North Side. Carol Moseley Braun met with reporters after punching the number 3 on her voter card. Miguel del Valle was out before dawn, beginning what is sure to be a long day of campaigning. Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William "Dock" Walls are also blanketing the city for votes.
Continue to check back with us throughout the day and evening for updates on the city elections, and watch a report on ABC-7 on the mayoral candidates' final push:
With Election Day right around the corner, the four major candidates running for mayor of Chicago met up for one final debate yesterday that focused on the race's front-runner Rahm Emanuel. Taxes, immigration, and the benefit of six extra weeks of campaigning -- and how these issue relate to Emanuel -- were the major notes hit by Gery Chico, Carol Moseley Braun, and Miguel del Valle.
As Progress Illinois predicted, Chico returned to his favorite criticism of Emanuel, hitting him on "the Rahm Tax," which Chico called "the largest expansion of the sales tax on services that has ever been put to our city." Del Valle got in on the discussion by talking about property taxes and coming out as the only candidate who supports keeping the head tax in place. He called it a "non-issue," saying the city collects more in red light camera violations than the head tax. "The people who are really getting hit hard are the ones in the neighborhoods," del Valle said. The comment led to applause and a scolding from moderator Ron Magers. Watch the exchange here, beginning at the 4:37 mark:
Both Moseley Braun and del Valle pointed to Emanuel's inability in Washington -- both as a congressman and White House
chief of staff -- to get meaningful immigration reform passed. Moseley
Braun pointed to the failure of the DREAM Act, while del
Emanuel of ducking the issue because of politics. Del Valle said, "The
fact of the matter is Rahm referred to immigration as ‘the third
rail of politics,’ and he advised his colleagues in Congress not to
pursue immigration reform.
The attacks weren't all aimed at Emanuel. Del Valle said Chico and Emanuel were "cut from the same cloth" and that both have "taken full advantage of their contacts in federal government or city government."
That's the number of union members Gery Chico's campaign for mayor says attended a get out the vote rally last night near Pilsen, the number of election volunteers Miguel del Valle's campaign reports they have at the ready, and the number of people Rahm Emanuel's campaign says have signed up to lend a hand for Emanuel's mayoral bid. It's get out the vote time, so prepare yourself for phone calls, door knocks, and television ads -- a flurry of campaigning until the polls close in the first round of voting next Tuesday night.
Early voting, by the way, ends tomorrow at 5 p.m., and you can cast your ballot on February 22 between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. at sites across the city.