Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he believes he may have voted in Wednesday's local school council elections, though his answer wasn’t too convincing.
Wednesday, WBEZ political reporter Sam Hudzik asked Emanuel if he’d voted in his local school council election yet.
“You know what? I gotta get back to you and answer that. OK? I don’t know,” Emanuel said.
“You don’t remember if you voted?” Hudzik responded.
“I voted, I voted. Yes, I did vote.” Emanuel said.
The councils are like mini school boards at Chicago Public Schools. They help decide curriculum and budgets. And they have the power to hire and fire the principal—a power not given to parents or community members in any other big-city school system.
Any Chicagoan aged 18 or older can vote for parent and community representatives at their neighborhood elementary school Wednesday and at their high school Thursday.
Supporters of the councils say they’ve quietly improved hundreds of schools since they were instituted more than 20 years ago. And they complain Chicago Public Schools has marginalized the councils—and democracy—in favor of dramatic, top-down fixes like closing schools or firing all staff.
An employee reached by telephone at Ravenswood Elementary, Emanuel’s neighborhood school, said she hadn’t seen the mayor at the school Wednesday or heard that he’d been there to vote. An Emanuel spokesman did not return a call requesting clarification of whether Emanuel had voted or not—and why the mayor seemed confused about whether he had.
The local school council races in Emanuel’s neighborhood are some of the hottest in the city.
At Ravenswood, 17 parents and community reps are fighting for 8 seats. Emanuel’s neighborhood high school, Lake View, has 26 candidates vying for 11 seats—more candidates than any other high school. Most LSC elections this year are not contested races.
Emanuel still has one more chance to be absolutely certain he voted. The election for high school LSCs is Thursday. Voting hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.