Do the right thing | Bleader

Friday, April 13, 2007

Do the right thing

Posted By on 04.13.07 at 09:11 PM

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

The candidates in the Lincoln Park-based 43rd Ward both say that voters there are concerned about making solid schools better, receiving city services, keeping taxes in check, and balancing development with safety, traffic, and aesthetic concerns. But alderman Vi Daley and challenger Michele Smith have also been busy calling each other liars.

The alderman has accused Smith of claiming she helped workers when she was a corporate attorney for Navistar, a trucking company, when in fact she slashed retirement benefits. Then, over the last couple of weeks, the Daley campaign has claimed that several supporters found Smith staffers trading free beer for votes at a recent campaign event—and that Smith has changed her story to try to cover it up. In response, Smith has created a page on her Web site called “Vi’s Lies.” Daley, Smith says, has mischaracterized her record at Navistar and exaggerated her campaign’s role in the beer promotion.

For her part, Smith, a former federal prosecutor and corporate attorney, blasts Daley for lousy service delivery and “pay-to-play” politics, charging that she lets developers who donate to her campaign pursue too many projects that neighborhood residents don’t want. Daley says she’s responsive to the concerns of residents.

Underneath the squabbling is a fiery debate over who is more politically independent. Daley has received endorsements, money, and campaign workers from the mayor (no relation) and several other aldermen, but maintains that she follows her own lead. On a recent Saturday afternoon Daley strolled past a man in a rabbit suit walking on stilts, three Park District employees doing the chicken dance, and dozens of children hunting for plastic colored Easter eggs during Wiggly Wabbit day at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. After posing for pictures with park district staff and greeting a few families she knew, Daley pointed out a nearby playground, bike path, and sculpture she was responsible for.

She said she’s asked more often about these kinds of quality-of-life issues than citywide matters. She went out of her way to explain that she’d opposed the big-box minimum-wage ordinance because she thought it would limit what aldermen can do to improve their own wards.

“I felt very strongly about it,” Daley said. “I’ve never had so many people e-mailing and calling me, saying, ‘You did the right thing.’ And the mayor didn’t ask me to do it. He didn’t call me about it—nobody from his office called me about it.”

Later that afternoon Smith knocked on townhome doors to introduce herself and listen to voter concerns. She had to answer residents’ questions about her record at Navistar and her support from unions—a few thousand dollars—from people who’d seen Daley attack ads.

Mostly, though, voters were concerned about neighborhood services. One man told her he wasn’t happy about the traffic on Clybourn. Another said some nearby trees were diseased and needed to be removed. Mark Buciak stepped onto his porch in running sweats and asked Smith what she thought of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.

“I’d love to have the Olympics,” Smith said. “But only if it’s paid for responsibly.” Smith pointed out that alderman Daley almost always votes with the mayor and the council majority. “I don’t care how great they are—they can’t be right 100 percent of the time,” Smith said. “The current alderman has lowered expectations of what being a legislator should be.”

Buciak asked for one of her campaign buttons.


Tags: , , ,

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories