Students discuss upcoming Chicago mayoral runoff election


Connie Wang/The Daily Northwestern

Communication sophomore Matt Fulle speaks in support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a panel about the mayoral runoff election hosted by the Center for Civic Engagement and Political Union. The center hosted the event to inform students about the unprecedented runoff election between Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Michelle Kim, Reporter

Two Northwestern groups hosted a panel Thursday night aimed at better informing students about the candidates in the Chicago mayoral runoff election.

In front of a crowd of about 35, student panelists discussed the stances on key issues of the two candidates — incumbent Rahm Emanuel (Communication ‘85) will go up against Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

“It seemed like a lot of people expected Rahm to win, and the fact that he didn’t win the initial election made it a greater interest,” said Qiddist Hammerly, a Center for Civic Engagement fellow. “I had students coming up to me asking why he didn’t win, what are the issues, who is this Chuy Garcia guy … so I think the runoff is the reason why we decided to have the event now.”

The election, which took place on Feb. 24, went to an unprecedented runoff election after no candidate obtained a majority of votes. The surprising runoff prompted NU’s Center for Civic Engagement and Political Union to host the informative panel.

The runoff will occur on April 7.

The event began with an educational presentation by Weinberg senior Larry Svabek, who is also a fellow at the center. He gave a brief history of Chicago mayoral elections and explanation of how the runoff works.

Hammerly, a SESP junior, said the students on the panel were chosen based on their involvement with Chicago politics.

Panelists covered a variety of issues relevant to Chicago residents, including public school closings, the expansion of the police force and property taxes.

“I think when it comes to economic policy, Rahm has a clear vision whereas Chuy hasn’t really presented anything he would do differently,” said panelist Robert Bourret, the president of NU College Democrats who currently works on Emanuel’s reelection campaign.

However, the downgrade of Chicago’s debt rating in the past few years does not convey this prospect, said SESP junior Zane Waxman, who works on Garcia’s campaign.

Waxman told The Daily he wanted more students to be aware of how qualified Garcia is to meet the needs of Chicago residents.

“There’s a possibility of a Chicago that has much more effectively distributed funds and resources that promote the growth for the entire city, and there’s a possibility of a Chicago where everything but downtown is crumbling,” Waxman said. “Chuy represents the first and Rahm represents the second.”

Following the event, SESP sophomore Sydney Selix said she felt more undecided about which candidate she supports.

“I feel like I’m either choosing experience or change,” Selix said. “But then again, who knows if Chuy is going to change Chicago that much? Or is Rahm’s experience a good thing? Sometimes the more I learn, the easier it is to stay neutral.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a quotation about how resources would be distributed differently in Chicago under the two mayoral candidates. The quotation was said by Zane Waxman. The Daily regrets the error.

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