All candidates but Emanuel vow - if elected - to debate future opponents

Mayor Daley has avoided debates since his election

February 1, 2011

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All but one of the candidates for Chicago mayor are vowing that if they win, they'll take part in debates when running for re-election.

That's something Mayor Richard Daley never did. Daley has not debated his opponents since he was first elected to the office in 1989.

In the course of a campaign, candidates promise they'll do a lot of things. Rahm Emanuel has said if he gets elected, he will expand after-school programs and hire some more police. But he would not promise to debate future opponents if he becomes mayor.

"First of all, let me get elected, and I promise you will be there and I'll answer that question directly," Emanuel said Monday morning, at a short news conference after taking advantage of early voting on Chicago's West Side. "But so you know in this...campaign, I [will have] participated in six separate televised debate[s]."

Emanuel is the only candidate in the race for mayor not to directly answer the question. His five opponents - Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley Braun, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and Bill "Dock" Walls - each committed to future debates if they get elected mayor.

"I am going to be the most accessible mayor in the history of the city of Chicago," del Valle said Monday, following a campaign event in the city's Humboldt Park neighborhood. "I would go to all the debates because you owe it to the voters of the city of Chicago."

It would be the first time an incumbent Chicago mayor took part in a campaign debate in more than two decades.