Chicago Mayoral race heats up with Garcia gaining ground

Mayoral candidate Jesus Garcia and the current  Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel
Mayoral candidate Jesus Garcia and the current
Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel

CHICAGO: The Mayoral race for Chicago is heating up. What appeared to be a one-horse race a few months ago with all betting on Mayor Rham Emanuel wining hands down the four cornered race on February 24 with subtle support from the President Barack Obama, is now become a two-horse play off.
Relatively less known and underdog Jesus “Chuvy” Garca has forced a run off election with Rham Emanuel for April 7 and is now forging ahead with support from many a quarter. The huge lead that Mayor Rham Emanuel enjoyed over his run off rival is getting smaller everyday.

An opinion poll conducted by Ogden and Fry a couple of weeks ago showed Garcia has forged ahead from 33 percent to 38.5 with Rham enjoying a lead of four percent at 42.9 only with 20 percent voters undecided. This is a near dead heat, say political analysts, and with Garcia bagging endorsements of Latinos and African Americans, it would not be surprising if he springs a surprise on Rham Emanuel.

Members of Indian American community too have been watching closely the election scenario and they want to get educated about the position that the two candidates take on many issues. Earlier, during the four-pronged elections ending February 24, many had backed Willie Wilson, an African American who had risen from a low key McDonald employee to be one of its franchises and now heading a multimillion-dollar plastic glove distribution business. He could not make it at the end and now Indian Americans have begun assessing Garcia to see if he could be supported.

A front ranking ethnic newspaper publisher, Prashant Shah recently hosted a meet with Garcia at his office of India Tribune and invited media to attend it so that the community members could get enlightened on the issues that face them. Interestingly, Garcia came out a winner answering tough questions and assuring the community of its fair share in the City administration if he gets elected.

“Indians are well educated, having great work ethics and I would be fortunate to have these kind of people in my administration,” he told the gathering. He said that one of the foremost tasks he would take up is to have balanced development in the City which right now is primarily in the Downtown area. He would also end the corporate patronage that influences the decision making process in the City. The Red Light camera that plagues the city roads will be off as it has blown into scandal ridden affair.

As a Mayor, Garcia would make his administration more people- oriented with frequent town hall meetings and inviting suggestions from people for improving the city. The closing of schools also smacks of inept handling of city affairs. “You snuff out whatever life there is in the community with closure of schools,” he observed. The crime and shootings are also big issues and Garcia said that he would augment the police force hiring additional 1000 officers.

Offering a big sop to the Indian community in Chicago, Garcia said that he would be among the first elected officials to attend the India Day Parade held by the community in August. For the past many years, Chicago Mayors past and present, have shunned attending this Indian event and that was an eyesore for many community activists.

The key to Garcia winning would be the support that he could extract from the African American community and in this context he would focus on those who had solidly voted for Willie Wilson, an African American candidate, in the February 24 elections.

Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service

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