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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Emanuel, Garcia Face Off In Today's Election


The candidates for Chicago mayor spent the final days of the campaign re-enforcing their priorities and challenging each other's points.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seeking a second term. He's in a runoff election against Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia after falling short of the needed majority to win February's election.

Emanuel took to T.V. cameras to emphasize something he’s pushed since his very early days in office. He says he’s brought corporate headquarters and new jobs to the city.

“Now we don’t have natural gas,” Emanuel said. “We don’t have oil. We don’t have Silicon Valley. So how did Chicago lead?”

Emanuel says he led with strong economic and transportation plans. But while Emanuel continues to make that pitch, Garcia is pitching education as his strong suit.

Garcia made his case outside a Chicago Public School on the city’s northwest side.

“Fifty-five percent of voters in the first round voted for change, and that’s why 90 percent of those who voted for it, voted for an elected school board in Chicago.”

Friday was the last day to early vote. Nearly twice as many voters have already done that compared to February’s election.

Emanuel focused his attacks on Garcia’s financial plan, or at least a lack of detail in how he’d handle the city’s financial problems. Garcia has spent two days now hitting back at Emanuel for not being more transparent about the city’s finances.

“We’re gonna let citizens and taxpayers know exactly what the situation is and then put before them a variety of difficult medicines as to how we move forward,” Garcia said.

Emanuel calls that a “secret budget.” At his own press event, Emanuel insinuated he has the leadership chops to bring new jobs to Chicago.

“And if you don’t have good leadership, we have seen that movie and it’s a horror flick,” Emanuel said. “Jobs, businesses and families leave.”

Emanuel denied he was talking directly about Garcia in that statement.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says tomorrow's runoff mayoral election will decide Chicago's financial health for years to come.

The Illinois Republican says Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia’s campaign supporters have supported higher spending in the past.

"He's backed by the same [Service Employees International Union] team that has run the state into the ground," Kirk said. "That union is absolutely toxic for fiscal discipline."

The SEIU is actually divided on support for Garcia and incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel. While the SEIU’s state council has endorsed Garcia, the Local 73 branch has endorsed Emanuel.

The faction endorsing Garcia says Emanuel has paid little attention to the south and west sides of Chicago during his four years in office, and continues to hit the mayor for shuttering 50 city schools in 2013.

Garcia says he was written off earlier in the campaign - simply because of money.

"You can’t discount that we forced a runoff with $1.3 million versus $14 plus and the power of an incumbent," Garcia said.

Garcia also says polls showing Emanuel with a large lead are wrong - and he’s not nervous that might he lose.

Emanuel continues to criticize Garcia for not sharing specifics on his financial plans.

Garcia said in a debate last week that he wasn’t at liberty to give all the names of a committee he says would help dig through the city’s finances.

"What is this a week before the election you’re not at liberty to tell us who’s gonna be on your committee making decisions what taxes go up, what services get cut," Emanuel said.

Neither candidate has ruled out property taxes. They both refer to them as a “last resort”.

The U.S. attorney's office in Chicago says it'll monitor today's local mayoral election and field any complaints alleging voting fraud. Prosecutors say the FBI's Chicago office and the U.S. Marshals Service would help look into any credible complaints about election fraud if necessary.

Tomorrow's contest will also feature runoffs for aldermanic contests.

  • WBEZ's Tony Arnold and WILL's Hannah Meisel contributed to this report.
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