Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicago election update: Runoffs for the Mayor and 19 council districts

For the Mayoral race ("Mayor Emanuel heads to runoff against Garcia," Chicago Tribune) and 19 aldermanic districts ("City Council races headed to runoffs," CT), the election campaign continues as for these seats no one candidate received 50%+1 of the vote.

Final turnout was expected to be about 34% of those registered to vote, a reasonable indicator that February in Chicago is a bad time to hold an election.

Tribune Columnist John Kass argues ("Chumbolones stand tall in Chicago mayoral election") that the runoff will be about neighborhoods vs. the so-called Downtown agenda, not unlike the way that the election of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has been characterized as a boon for progressive politics and a more populist agenda (see the new e-book from Nation Books, Inequality and One City, Bill de Blasio and the New York Experiment, Year One, by Eric Alterman).

In a weekend column, "Do Chicago a favor, don't let Rahm win Tuesday," Kass argued for a runoff so that the issues faced by Chicago get a greater hearing.  He got his wish.  From the article:
Wealthy people with access to politicians don't go in much for public discussion and debate about what they want or don't want. What's the point of huge campaign contributions if you have to talk about what you want? 
If there were a runoff, the two candidates would be forced to talk public issues and civic needs and wants, so the people who live in the city could determine what kind of future they want for themselves. 
Some of the wealthy and influential backers of Rahm believe themselves to be thinking only of the public good. And I certainly respect a few of them who, I truly believe, have the best interests of the city at heart. 
But here's the problem: One fact of human nature is that humans can't help but think of their own interests. 
And with serious questions facing Chicago, it's not a good idea to have a few insiders and property owners deciding things.

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