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Chico calls Mendoza ‘unfit’ for mayor’s job — she stays ‘focused on … future’

Mayoral candidates Gery Chico, left, and Susana Mendoza, right. | Rich Hein / Sun-Times

Mayoral candidate Gery Chico on Monday took the gloves off and pummeled the only other Hispanic candidate in the race: state Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

Chico charged that Mendoza proved herself “unfit for the job or the responsibilities that come with being the mayor of Chicago” because she “can’t even decide which job she wants” and proved it again by being evasive and duplicitous.

In a statement released by his campaign just as Mendoza was filing her nominating petitions, Chico pointed to Mendoza’s refusal to say whether she would remove or retain Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

The Invisible Institute posed the question to all of the candidates in a story posted last week that focused on “Johnson’s refusal to discipline officers who improperly used deadly force and often promoted those officers.”

“Susana has played political games by refusing to come clean with voters about running for mayor, and now that she’s openly running for mayor she refuses to come clean with voters on where she stands on important issues. She can’t be trusted to be the strong leader Chicagoans can count on,” Chico said.

Chico further argued that Mendoza “again misled the public” by claiming she cast the “deciding vote” in the General Assembly on abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.

In a story in Monday’s Chicago Sun-Times, the Better Government Association pointed out the contradiction.

“She has claimed she was the final vote on abolishing it. This was not true on the final vote, and the news article called her comments on this critical issue ‘mostly false,’ “ Chico said.

After filing her nominating petitions, Mendoza was asked again to take a stand on retaining or firing Eddie Johnson.

She avoided the question — again.

“We haven’t crossed that bridge yet. First, I have to get elected,” she said.

“I’m gonna surround myself [with] the best and the brightest minds in every office that I have any say over. It’s important as the mayor of Chicago, just like I have as comptroller and like I did before as city clerk, to try to find the best people to help you implement your vision for the city. Who those people are, I’m not sure yet. But, we’ll be working on that as the days move forward.”

Mendoza was asked about over-stating the role she played in abolishing the death penalty in Illinois in her haste to prove “electric Suzy,” the tough-on-crime nickname she earned in Springfield, no longer applies.

“Those folks can say all the negative stuff they want. I’m focused on the future. And I’m being positive about the opportunities that lie ahead for the city of Chicago with a good leader at the helm,” Mendoza said.

“In terms of the death penalty, I’m super proud that I was a deciding vote, if we want to be super-clear, and that an abolition bill would not have passed without my support. I’m proud that I evolved on the issue.”


* A game of 21: Mendoza, Brown join crowded mayoral field — now who will fold?

Fact-check: Mendoza off in claim of last-minute reprieve for death penalty ban

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Fact-check: Peeling back Vallas’ swipe at Mendoza’s city sticker record

Preckwinkle ‘appalled’ by ex-aide’s behavior—Mendoza ‘horrified’ by its handling

Susana Mendoza: “You cannot just be in the business of closing schools”

Susana Mendoza already on the defensive on day one of mayoral campaign

In a story posted last week by South Side Weekly, Chico was quoted as saying that Mayor Rahm Emanuel should call for Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s office to open an investigation into Johnson’s pattern of justifying misconduct.

“Chicago’s top police officer should not have a record of downplaying or overlooking misconduct within the police department,” Chico’s statement to the newspaper said.

Chico accused the mayor’s office of failing to identify the troubling pattern before he plucked Johnson out of obscurity to replace fired Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who is also running for mayor.

Emanuel rejected three finalists for superintendent chosen by his own handpicked Police Board and went around the Police Board to choose Johnson, even though he hadn’t even applied for the job.

“It is unacceptable that this information is only coming to light now nearly three years after [Johnson] was appointed superintendent,” South Side Weekly quoted Chico as saying.

Video by Fran Spielman