CHICAGO (WLS) — It has been eight years since Congressman “Chuy” Garcia first ran for mayor of Chicago.
So why now, and what does he think he learned in Congress that would help lead a city with so many challenges like this?
Garcia has walked from Durango, Mexico to the 22nd Precinct on Capitol Hill. It’s been quite a journey for the today’s congressman, who at 66 believes he’s ready for a second run at City Hall.
“The easiest thing for me would be to stay in Congress. It was the greatest honor of my life,” Garcia said.
Instead, after winning his re-election as the representative of the state’s 4th congressional district, Garcia announced just two days after Election Day that he was joining an already crowded campaign and running for mayor.
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“Coming home really means accepting the call I hear to create a better place for its residents,” he said.
He said Chicago needs new leadership, adding that he can no longer support Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whom he supported four years ago. Among other things, he pointed to a lack of funding for measures to prevent violence and the failure to fulfill campaign promises such as the reopening of the city’s closed psychiatric hospitals.
“She caused all these public infighting and fights with the Chicago City Council that were on full display. People are fed up with this. They want something different,” Garcia said.
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Although Garcia entered the race too late to enlist the support of some of the city’s biggest unions, he said he believes he can now overcome the key obstacles he faced in his first unsuccessful bid when he was appointed by an incumbent mayor , who was seen overwhelmed with significant funds than a better understanding of the city’s financial problems.
“I was a member of the infrastructure committee. This resulted in the Infrastructure and Employment Act,” he said. “I’ve served on the Financial Services Committee and covered the financial system across the country.”
He also acknowledges that tackling the city’s crime rate is a top priority for most residents. And as with City Hall, Garcia believes leadership change is needed at CPD.
“Morale hasn’t been this low in a long time,” Garcia said. “I think a new leadership. Probably Chicago-born leadership can help change that.”
While Garcia struggled to attract white and black voters last time, he believes he can pull it off this time.
“I think there is a tendency to unify Chicago and put it on the right track so that we can grow Chicago, grow its prosperity and now after everything we’ve been through to ensure that the benefits of a growing, Wealthy Chicagos are being invested everywhere in Chicago, too,” Garcia said.
With 10+ candidates expected, a runoff in the mayoral race is all but certain.
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If his bid is successful, a special election would now have to be held to fill Garcia’s seat in Congress. He said he wasn’t worried about it, even if the balance of power in Congress was likely to change, because he said the 4th congressional district was considered a safe Democratic district.
The election is scheduled for February next year.
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