Mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle says he declined an invitation from Rahm Emanuel to co-chair the mayor-elect’s transition team. Del Valle told me in a phone interview that he turned the position down because—after his term as City Clerk is over on May 15th—he will work on other projects “organizing around progressive issues in the neighborhoods.”
Yesterday, Emanuel announced his transition team, which will be co-chaired by a group of community, business, and religious leaders from the city. (An e-mail to Rahm’s communications director asking for a comment was not returned by post time.)
Although he finished third (slightly ahead of Carol Moseley Braun) and raised only $250,000, del Valle’s message—that Chicago cannot be a world-class city until it has “world-class neighborhoods”—resonated, especially with his cadre of young activists.
In a wide-ranging conversation Friday afternoon, del Valle complained about the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the campaign, expressed his regret that there weren’t more debates, and wouldn’t rule out another run for mayor. Here, some highlights:
CF: Have you talked to Rahm Emanuel since the election?
MdV: I had one brief conversation with him. He called me on Wednesday, and he asked me if I would consider being a co-chair of his transition team. I replied no because I’ll be working on a number of things.
CF: What exactly are you working on?
MdV: I’m going to be organizing around progressive issues in the neighborhoods. I’m going to continue to develop a progressive agenda for the neighborhoods that have been neglected…. I’m going to bring together folks who were in our campaign.
CF: Can you give me the names of some of these people?
MdV: They’re neighborhood folks, lots of them are very young—they’re young organizers.
CF: Could you see yourself running for mayor again four years from now?
MdV: I see myself running for another elected office. [Mayor] is a possibility.
CF: Any regrets about this campaign?
MdV: I wish we would have had more televised debates. We didn’t have money to do TV spots. We relied on debates to get our word out. I was never asked by any group how many I thought there should be. I don’t know this for a fact, but it seems like Rahm’s camp pretty much dictated how many televised debates there’d be. I would have agreed on as many as we could get. Rahm took his message into people’s living rooms many, many times a day for extended periods of time. That meant he didn’t have to go forums; that’s where the Rose Garden strategy comes in. He didn’t go to forums to avoid getting tripped up.
CF: Had Carol Moseley Braun done better, would there have been a runoff?
MdV: Absolutely, that was the key. I had hoped for a runoff, and I thought there would be a runoff in part because I thought Carol would do much better than the polls were indicating.
CF: Was the media fair?
MdV: The electronic media was very fair. I do think the Tribune was very unfair; the Tribune was really biased. We complained time and again about the lack of adequate coverage.
CF: Are you saying that the Tribune was advocating for Rahm?
MdV: Yes, totally.
CF: During the campaign, how much time did you spend raising money?
MdV: Initially five, six, seven hours a day, but it was soon clear that Rahm Emanuel was going to run, so people I was calling who were on these lists of donors to the Democratic Party pretty much were already locked in.
CF: Did the residency challenge help Rahm?
MdV: Definitely. We were called early on and asked if we would contribute to the legal fund for that and we said no right away. I said from the beginning that it was a distraction, ultimately he’d be on the ballot, and that it would work in his favor. [It was] a lot of lost time, used up by the media to talk about whether he had boxes in a crawl space—time that should have been used to deal with issues.
CF: Will you be taking a vacation?
MdV: I came to work the very next day [after the election]. I have just about run out of vacation days. I have three days left, so no vacation.
CF: Would you take a job in private industry?
MdV: No, any job I take would be not for profit or academia. A few years ago, I taught a course at Roosevelt on public policy, on Saturday mornings, 8 a.m., for 16 weeks. It’s something I would enjoy doing.
Photograph: Chicago Tribune