Why in the world would I vote for Rahm Emanuel? A message from an actively engaged citizen


They say a picture speaks a thousand words. That’s cool and all, but today, I’ll speak my thousand myself.

I’ll save you some time if you’re not interested in personal philosophies and how I came to a decision to vote for Rahm in the 2015 election. Simply put, I believe the city’s financial crisis requires a Mayor that can secure the diverse partnerships and capital investment needed to prop up a city that is functioning on life support. I’m betting that the punch in the nose that brought us to the April 7th run-off has given Mayor Emanuel and his supporters a new perspective and an altered way of doing business. There are real people out here who are just as passionate and collectively powerful as the Mayor believes himself and his to be. It is imperative that we create a reality reflective of our shared vision for our city, state, country and our world. In the international, monied up, teetering on the brink of the unknown climate that we currently exist in, I believe you need a collective of economic, intellectual, community, and spiritual capital to reverse the current trends.

I don’t agree with some of the things that the Mayor has done, including what the city has done with some of our investment dollars. The closing of 50 schools was completely mishandled. The Chicago Police Department needs a revamped community policing strategy, and he needs to be better informed about how to address violence amongst the city’s youth. Even still, I’ve matured to the point where I also don’t believe in acting on my emotions. When I examine some of the good things that the Mayor has done, including his CTA and CHA Second Chance Programs for Ex-Offenders, his creation of THRIVE zones for community based economic development, the newly created Chicago Investment Fund, his stated commitment to education, the increase in city contracts to Black owned businesses, his commitment to the Summer Jobs Program, and a willingness to build strategic, “transactional” relationships across class and community lines, it leads me to believe that even more is possible.

In meeting the Mayor, I saw passion and a willingness to compromise around what works best for all Chicagoans, so I decided to come to the table with a whole cadre of capable practitioners who have already been putting in work, who are willing to hold and to be held accountable, and who are more than ready to work some more. I don’t come to the political table looking for a hand out. I come as an actively, engaged citizen who loves the city of his birth and who is already engaged in the fight for its survival.

Every single person that I am personally committed to is personally committed to the community at large…that includes the poor, the working class, those shut out and those shut in. It includes people with and without access, those with and without opportunity, those who live in, love and respect their community, those who need a leg up, those who already have capacity, and those with and without resources. On April 8th, just as I am today, I’ll be working to implement an agenda that creates culturally informed, community focused, holistic and mental health centered, social and economic development for my community and the community at large.

I chose to vote for Rahm because I think, at this time, in the world as it is, in our city as we are, that he provides the best opportunity for active and engaged citizens of all classes and backgrounds to roll up their sleeves and put in the work that is necessary for us all to gain solid footing. No platitudes. No promises. Just real work….guided by an ongoing discourse…some in-house fighting…and an emergence of a vision that is both respectful and reflective of us all. Do I trust that he’ll come to that conclusion on his own? Not at all. Do I know that he respects power and one’s ability to make vision a reality? Absolutely. Do I believe in my community and our ability to deliver that which we have been born to do? Completely. Will I continue that work regardless? Without a doubt.

I’m ready to get down to business … and I’ma let this work paint the next picture.


The Real TJ Crawford (on twitter @tjcrawford4real)

The real TJ Crawford (@tjcrawford4real) is a hip hop generation, social entrepreneur building community via words, deeds and actions.

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