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Dorothy Brown launches listening tour as part of mayoral campaign

Dorothy Brown launches a listening tour as part of mayoral campaign. | Adam Thorp/For the Sun-Times

Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown launched a new phase in her mayoral campaign Tuesday, starting a listening tour and a series of “community walks” across the city with an event in Woodlawn.

“You cannot serve the people if you do not know the people. This listening tour is my way to better understand the issues impacting all of the citizens of Chicago,” Brown said.

As part of the event, Brown walked through a series of mid-South Side neighborhoods, speaking to residents and encouraging them to join her at a listening session later in the evening.

At a press conference before the walk, Brown tore into what she characterized as the failures of city government: reported sexual abuse and data breaches at the Chicago Public Schools; the plight of homeless people driven out of a homeless encampment on Lower Wacker Driver last week; and the rash of gun violence last weekend that left nine people dead.

“From all of the outward signs, the city appears prosperous, with new developments breaking ground every day, the prospect of Amazon HQ2 landing here, and even high-speed rail to O’Hare. But those are not the realities that the average Chicagoan can expect to take part in. … How can we be a great city, a world-class city, when the needs of those residents are not being met,” Brown said.

Brown walked through a series of mid-South Side neighborhoods, speaking to residents and encouraging them to join her at a listening session later in the evening. | Adam Thorp/For the Sun-Times
Brown walked through a series of mid-South Side neighborhoods, speaking to residents and encouraging them to join her at a listening session later in the evening. | Adam Thorp/For the Sun-Times

Additional stops on the tour are scheduled in other parts of the city in coming weeks, starting with an event in the South Loop next Tuesday. Brown, who has rebutted concerns that the number of black candidates in the mayoral campaign will dilute the power of black voters, repeatedly emphasized that her campaign would be aimed at all Chicagoans.

Cars honked their horns in support as Brown and her supporters made their way down Martin Luther King Drive toward the Stateway Gardens housing complex, and a few drivers pulled over to the curb to express their support in person.

Brown is the target of a federal investigation into accusations that jobs and promotions in her Court Clerk office were traded for campaign donations.

A Chicago Sun-Times analysis of her office in March of this year found that 15 Court Clerk employees got promotions within six months of donating to Brown’s campaign. Hiring in her office was put under judicial supervision earlier this month.

Between her office’s legal problems, the already competitive mayoral field, and her poor performance in her 2007 challenge to then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, Brown’s decision to wade into the race in April was greeted with confusion by some political prognosticators.

Brown’s fundraising in the campaign so far has been dwarfed by both incumbent Rahm Emanuel’s huge war chest and the campaign funds of several other challengers. It is still unclear whether her campaign will find traction, but Brown has a record of citywide electoral success in four elections for Court Clerk, and won re-election in 2016 in the face of opposition from the Cook County Democratic Party, which endorsed her opponent.