Laura Washington: Who’s hearing the siren of higher office?

SHARE Laura Washington: Who’s hearing the siren of higher office?
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Chicago’s new City Council will be sworn in on Monday at the Chicago Theatre.

Inauguration day is here. The Chicago Theatre stage will be packed with dignitaries. Fifty members of the Chicago City Council will be sworn in, along with new faces and countless new dramas, the city treasurer, city clerk and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.OPINION

Four more years is what Emanuel wanted, badly. He got them. Along with an impending budget and pension disaster, bond rating downgrades, cuts from the new governor, hostile unions, fractious community groups and new City Council opponents.Everyone on that stage will be so glad they are not wearing his jacket, at least for now. While Emanuel delivers his tough love inaugural speech, the dreams of sugar plums will dance in their heads.Who will be mayor? Next time?For some, 2019 may seem right around the corner.This is Emanuel’s second — and last — term. He says he loves being mayor, but I suspect he still has national ambitions to plumb.So, as the pomp circumstances and the speakers speechify, listen for:“No regrets,” the tune in Toni Preckwinkle’s ear. Count out the persistent speculation that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will make a City Hall run next time. By 2019 she will be near retirement and happily ensconced in keeping the county’s operations forward-bound. Preckwinkle can spend her hefty political capital helping protégés step up, like her former chief of staff, Kurt Summers.Will that “old Harold magic” still work? That could be the muse for Summers. Emanuel appointed Summers to the open seat of city treasurer last year. The young investment banker won the seat outright in February, with no opposition.In his “campaign,” he toured the city’s 50 wards, touting plans to streamline the city’s financial operations and boost economic development. Summers’ grandfather was a close adviser to the first black mayor. Summers called him “Uncle Harold.”“Got to keep the battery charged,” might be the song for City Clerk Susana Mendoza, Chicago’s most ambitious pol. A colleague calls her the Energizer Bunny of Politics.She re-ups for a second term after proving her loyalty to the mayor as his vocal campaign co-chair. She took the podium at every turn to blast Emanuel’s opponent, Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia. When it comes to currying power in Chicago, ethnic politics often go by the wayside.“The fire next time,” is for 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespacke, signing up for his third tour as the most prominent pain in Emanuel’s you-know-what. In 2015, he demurred on running for mayor, instead backing fellow independents alderman Bob Fioretti and Garcia.He will remain a vocal critic of all things establishment.“Mr. Downtown,” could be the song for Ald. Brendan Reilly, who won his new term unopposed, cornering the well-heeled and corporate denizens of the 42nd Ward. He may be eying 2019. Reilly helped shape strategy and reportedly poured $75,000 into Brian Hopkins’ winning bid for 2nd Ward alderman. “The guy was absolutely relentless,” wrote Rich Miller of Capitol Fax.“Again?” Jesus “Chuy” Garcia? Yes, exhort many in the city’s progressive circles. Though soundly defeated, his historic runoff against Emanuel elevated him to heroic status with that crowd. Garcia has been meeting and talking at community gatherings, fundraisers and rallies since the April 7 election, but future plans remain murky.All, get busy. 2019 is around the corner.Email: lauraswashington@aol.comTwitter: @MediaDervish

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