CHICAGO — With Rahm Emanuel reportedly in the mix to run the US Transportation Department, Chicagoans are reacting strongly.
His career in politics spans decades. From the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, White House senior advisor, Congress, White House chief of staff and of course, Mayor of Chicago — it makes a resume like his is getting considered by Biden for Transportation Secretary.
But with his reputation, Emanuel is seen is a divisive figure in the Democratic party.
There’s a petition, with over 7,000 signatures on Change.org, urging Biden not to bring him on.
“Philosophically and ethically, he’s opposed to everything that our communities need in this moment,” said Kristi Sanford with the People’s Lobby. “I would hope that folks who are considering him for leadership in this administration would and that President-elect Biden in particular would look to the people of Chicago and hear our direct experiences.”
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that Emanuel’s handling of the Laquan McDonald case should disqualify him.
As Mayor Emanuel formed close ties with Aldermen representing various communities. Some are pushing back against the criticism.
“The opposition is all the cooky socialists. I would hope that the president-elect wouldn’t cave to that opposition. Those people are against everything,” said Ald. Nick Sposato (38th Ward). “You oversee the aviation, the highways, the railroads. He’s a hard worker. He’s got contacts. He’s a smart guy. I think it would be great for America but even greater for Chicagoland.”
South Side Alderman Anthony Beale is also routing for Emanuel.
“He knows the City of Chicago and the state of Illinois,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward). I think it would be a great win for the home team. He knows what it takes to get things done.”
Emanuel is credited with revamping the CTA’s “L” system, adding protected bike lanes and overseeing $11 billion in infrastructure investments at O’Hare and Midway.
Despite the record, unions representing transportation workers oppose Emanuel. John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union of America said Emanuel would be a nightmare.
In Washington, Emanuel was known for hyper-partisan politics. His edgy take-no-prisoners style earned him the nickname Rahmbo. The tactics often worked. Democrats and Republicans both concede he’s effective.
Now it’s up to President-elect Biden.