President of Chicago Teacher’s Union for Mayor?

Sergio Almodovar


Chicago’s mayoral race is coming in February and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s possible opposition, Karen Lewis, may bring the kind of change Chicagoans are hoping for.

Karen Lewis
Karen Lewis

During his first term, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel managed to lose the approval of many of his constituents. His handling of the public pension crisis was met with disapproval by union members, including president of the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU), Karen Lewis.

Emanuel cut the $20 million deficit in half by cutting workers benefits and raising property taxes. Lewis disapproves of the plan because of its harm to school employees and homeowners.

Emanuel also closed 50 Chicago public schools. A large percentage of these schools were located in minority areas, which could potentially cost him the African-American vote that helped him get elected the first time around.

Lewis has yet to officially announce her candidacy for mayor, but has filed the paperwork to allow for her to raise funds for her campaign committee. The American Federation of Teachers has pledge to give $1 million to help Lewis unseat Emanuel.

Lewis still has a challenge ahead of her if she plans to catch up to Emanuel’s campaign funding, which, as of mid-July, has raised over $8 million. Bill Ruthhart of the Los Angeles Times reports, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s biggest campaign donors dropped $950,000 in one day into a new super political action committee created to help back his run for re-election in 2015.” The super PAC [Political Action Committee] consisted of eight CEOs.

Though Lewis’s campaign funding is at a disadvantage when compared to Emanuel’s, a survey by Chicago Tribune holds Lewis at 43 percent and Emanuel at 39 percent.

Lewis seems to be on the right side of all issues when it comes to the lower and middle class. Just the mere fact that she is the president of a major Chicago union would serve to help her get the union members vote.

The CTU’s strike in 2012-that helped put Lewis on the spotlight as she stood in support for public education and teachers-can gain her the vote of those who have been affected by Emanuel’s privatizing of education, which he has been doing by closing public schools and opening more charter schools in Chicago.

Lewis is on track to help gain the middle class support and branding Emanuel as “Mayor 1%” will help paint him in the right light. Emanuel is not helping his case with the amount of funding he is receiving from super PACs.

Lewis is yet to officially announce her candidacy, but is said to make an announcement by the end of August. Her election can mean a big change in the city built by unions.