Mayoral candidates debate, target Emanuel

February 11, 2011

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(Screenshot/myFoxChicago.com)

A new poll shows former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has a huge lead over his opponents with 49 percent of the vote. Meantime, his challengers are going on the attack. Even though the Chicago Tribune poll shows Emanuel with a huge lead, he would need 50 percent of the vote plus one on election day to win.

Former Chicago Public Schools' Chief Gery Chico came in second place in the poll with 19 percent. During a debate Thursday night on FOX Chicago, Chico said Emanuel wouldn't understand Chicago's crime issues.

"There are people like Mr. Emanuel who grew up in the wealthy North Shore who probably never experienced that and I think it makes it harder, harder to come to grips with what a plan would be to combat this," Chico said.

Other candidates also criticized Emanuel, but he didn't address any of the comments until his closing arguments.

"Since I've been criticized a number of times, I want to say this: My goal is not to criticize anybody or to attack anybody, but to attack the problems facing the City of Chicago," Emanuel said.

Meantime, other candidates for Chicago mayor said they would make life easier for small business owners in the city.

Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle says community-based organizations should help lead developments.

"Small businesses in neighborhoods throughout the city encounter all kinds of obstacles just to get a sign up," del Valle said.

And Chico said he would change the city's municipal code to help business owners get the necessary permits.

"We say we have an unemployment problem and we take over a year to give a small hardware store a building permit," Chico said.

Also running are former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, Bill "Dock" Walls and Patricia Van Pelt Watkins.