CHICAGO — In his challenge to Rahm Emanuel in 2015, Congressman Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia took fire for waiting months to release his economic plan and when it came out, the reviews were not great. So this time around, Garica is out with a carefully targeted proposal.

“People are hurting now,” Garcia said. “They need assistance now.”

Congressman Jesus Chuy Garcia, trying to stand out in the crowded mayoral field, proposes emergency property tax relief.

“The property tax relief plan is one that recognizes that the city should have done something that the city can do something that is tangible that doesn’t rely on Springfield,” Garcia said.

Under Garcia’s plan, an individual homeowner making $43,800 or less will be eligible to receive a $250 neighborhood preservation grant. In comparison, an individual taxpayer earning $58,340 or less will be eligible for a $500 grant. The candidate proposes a Business Assessment Protection program with payments to storefronts up to $1,500. 

“I think there’s a new realization post-Covid and post-the civil disturbances that we’ve experienced that we can only rebuild Chicago equitably, our plan addresses that,” Garcia said. “It invests in the emerging sectors of the economy and manufacturing and technology as well as transportation to make that happen.”

With strong name ID and deep ties with Chicago’s progressive community, Garcia began the contest as a top-tier candidate. But rivals have tried furiously to knock Garcia off message, questioning his ethics. Some have pointed to the Super Pac funded by indicted crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the congressman. Others have raised Garcia’s past support for indicted former House Speaker Michael Madigan.  

“Chuy Garcia came into this race late. He wanted to get his Congressional race under his belt and get his reelection under his belt and that may be costly here,” said WGN political analyst Paul Lisnek. “I wonder whether or not he found too much comfort in having that first reelection bid behind him so that we don’t see the kind of energy and focus in this mayor’s race that we would see if this was his all or nothing.” 

WGN News asked Garcia about seemingly being more subdued at debates and forums.

“I’m addressing real issues in Chicago. People know me,” he said. “They know I have the passion. What I’m trying to communicate is my policy positions, my solutions and above everything thing else, my relationships to get things done for Chicagoans.” 

Although others have done it, it’s difficult serving in Washington while running for mayor. For instance, Garcia was forced to choose between participating in a debate Tuesday night and attending President Joe Biden’s State of the Union. Garcia plans to attend the speech.