Leaders seek Harold-style unity after Emanuel’s ‘shock and awe’ decision

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Community leaders gathered Tuesday at Operation PUSH in the wake of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election, to announce they are embarking on a process to build the type of coalition that elected the late Mayor Harold Washington in 1983, and unite behind one candidate. | Photo provided by Chinta Strausberg/Operation PUSH

A group of black, white and Latino community leaders gathered Tuesday at Operation PUSH in the wake of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election.

After huddling and consulting with elected officials, pastors, labor union, business and civic leaders, they are embarking on a process to build the type of coalition that elected the late Mayor Harold Washington in 1983, and unite behind one candidate, some of the leaders said at a news conference afterward.

That process will begin immediately with vetting of all the current candidates and others, unnamed, whom the leaders expect will throw hats into the ring now that Emanuel is out of the race.

“The city is in shock and awe after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s surprise announcement. While we applaud his contributions to Chicago — pre-K for all, a vibrant and beautiful downtown — perhaps now, with a fresh start, the city’s unmet needs and unfinished business can be addressed,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said.

Standing with Jackson was a multicultural mix of leaders, including Jim Compton, Conrad Worrill, Leon Finney, Emma Lozano, Slim Coleman and Bob Fioretti.

Achieving the goal of unifying behind one candidate will mean the black and Latino communities coming together in agreement around their common objectives, drawing into their coalition the white lakefront progressives who helped elect Washington, the leaders said.

A candidate will rise to the top based on coalition interviews, issues platform, campaign fund-raising capacity, and polling, the group said.

“Those who aspire to replace Emanuel must put forward an urban agenda, a policy that is inclusive from the bottom up, to close gaps of inequity and make Chicago one city for all, following in the footsteps of Mayor Harold Washington, emphasizing neighborhoods where the need is greatest,” Jackson said, speaking for the group.

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