Rahm Emanuel wins sec­ond man­date as Chicago mayor


Rahm Emanuel won re-elec­tion Tues­day as vot­ers in Chicago’s first may­oral runoff de­cided that, de­spite his brusque man­age­ment style, the for­mer White House chief of staff was best equipped to deal with the many dire chal­lenges fac­ing the third-largest U.S. city.

Emanuel was forced to cam­paign fu­ri­ously across the city to beat Cook County Com­mis­sioner Je­sus “Chuy” Garcia af­ter fail­ing to cap­ture a ma­jor­ity against four other can­di­dates in a Fe­bru­ary elec­tion. The may­oral runoff was the first since the city changed the way it con­ducts elec­tions about 20 years ago.

With nearly all vot­ing precincts re­port­ing re­sults, Emanuel had about 56 per­cent of the vote com­pared to around 44 per­cent for Garcia.

The in­cum­bent high­lighted tough de­ci­sions he’s made since suc­ceed­ing for­mer Mayor Richard M. Da­ley in 2011, but ad­mit­ted that his man­age­ment ap­proach too of­ten rubbed city res­i­dents the wrong way. He por­trayed Garcia as too in­ex­pe­ri­enced to han­dle the city’s fi­nan­cial crunch.

Emanuel raised far more money than Garcia, plas­tered the air­waves with ads and had sup­port from his for­mer boss, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who cast an early bal­lot for him from Wash­ing­ton.

Be­gin­ning Wed­nes­day, the mayor faces huge ob­sta­cles in his sec­ond term, from fix­ing the worst-funded pen­sion sys­tems of any big U.S. city to stem­ming stub­born vi­o­lence and con­fronting la­bor unions that just spent mil­lions try­ing to de­feat him.

Chicago’s four pen­sion sys­tems are about US$20 bil­lion in debt, and the fund for Chicago Public Schools teach­ers is short about US$7 bil­lion of what’s needed to pay benefits as promised.

If Emanuel can’t work a deal with la­bor unions or get the Illi­nois Leg­is­la­ture to ap­prove re­lief, the city is on the hook for an ad­di­tional US$550 mil­lion yearly pay­ment to the re­tire­ment ac­counts, bring­ing the to­tal pay­ment to about US$1 bil­lion.

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