Sunday, April 21, 2024

Chuy García Aims to be Chicago’s First Latino Mayor

Rep, Jesús “Chuy” García is coming back to the city of Chicago where he hopes voters will see he has a deep love and passion for the city and put him atop the mayoral race.

García entered the race after he sealed his re-election to Congress last year and is now a front-runner for the mayoral race. The nine-candidate election is tight making an April runoff likely between top candidates Lori Lightfoot and García.

“It’s probably going to be a runoff. I don’t think any one of the candidates is going to win it outright,” said Columbia College Chicago associate professor Wilfredo Cruz, the author of “Latinos in Chicago: Quest for a Political Voice.”

Three years before he was elected to Congress, García waged a 2015 mayoral run, that excited many about the possibility of the city’s Latino mayor. He forced then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff. García lost, but his grassroots campaign energizes Latinos and progressives.

Now, he’s trying to woo a pandemic-battered city where residents feel uneasy about crime, forcing him to reassure them he can keep them safe while not rolling back reforms brought about by violence against Black and brown residents.

The illness, death, and disruption of the economy caused by COVID-19, along with civil unrest in Chicago that followed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, “is forcing us to think deeply about how we build a more equitable city,” García said.

García has called for the removal of Police Superintendent David Brown, who was appointed by Lightfoot, and he is calling for investment in neglected communities and funding for some of Chicago’s violence prevention groups.

Although his plan may mirror other candidates’ plans, García’s positive leadership skills can build support for his plans, compared to Lightfoot’s temperament. A recent poll found García with a 55% favorable rating, compared to Lightfoot’s 51% unfavorable rating.

García, usually referred to by his nickname, Chuy, said Chicago gave him multiple opportunities, from being the first in his family to graduate from college to serving in Congress.

García was a member of the City Council when progressive icon Harold Washington was the city’s first Black mayor. He was elected to two terms on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

García was the executive director of the Little Village Development Corp. and grew the organization, which focused on housing and crime prevention.

“If you didn’t know Chuy García and you didn’t know he was an elected official, you could bump into him in this space and feel he’s a regular neighborhood guy,” said Cesar Nuñez, a co-executive director of the group.

Rocío García, the organizing director of United Working Families, said Chuy García, to whom she is not related, was a household name in her family’s home in Little Village. She respects him and supported him in 2015.

As of last week, about a fifth of Chicago voters were undecided.

NBC News