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Is Robert Fioretti just listening, or is he running for mayor?

Reverend Anthony Randall stepped to the pulpit at Twelve Gates Missionary Baptist Church, a small congregation that meets in a storefront space on West Division in Austin. “The next voice you’ll hear is from someone who’s become a friend of mine,” he said, “and I hope he’s going to become our next mayor.”

Second Ward alderman Robert Fioretti was beaming as he shook the pastor’s hand.

“I think of the passage from Luke: ‘When he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,'” Fioretti told the congregation. “But there is hope. We all have to work together.”

Whenever he’s asked, Fioretti insists that he’s still weighing his options for the February municipal elections. But it sure looks like he’s aiming to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Over the last three years Fioretti has emerged as one of the few outspoken critics of Emanuel in the City Council. And the mayor has returned the love: when Emanuel’s allies redrew ward boundaries two years ago, the Second Ward was so altered that Fioretti’s home is no longer in it.

“I received a call, through a third party, at 10:30 the night before the remap, asking if I’d rather be in the 27th or the 28th Ward,” Fioretti says. “I told them in no uncertain terms what to do with themselves.”

But the deed was done, and Fioretti now lives in the new 28th. Running for alderman again would require Fioretti, who is white, to take on an incumbent in the Third, 27th, or 28th—all predominantly black wards—or move north to be within the remapped Second Ward.

“Why should I leave my home because of the mayor?” Fioretti says.

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