Alderman giving away $20,000 from mayor
Sawyer to donate gift from Emanuel to community
South Side Ald. Roderick Sawyer sought to distance himself Friday from outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s parting gift of $20,000 to his campaign fund, announcing that he would distribute the money to community organizations instead of using it to help fund his re-election run.
Emanuel handed out more than $500,000 in $20,000 increments to more than two dozen City Council allies Wednesday, the checks made out to the aldermen’s political campaign funds. The mayor told those he invited to the downtown breakfast that he appreciated them helping him make tough decisions for the city, before surprising them with the contributions, Sawyer said.
“The mayor invited me, along with a lot of others, there to say thank you for that interaction,” Sawyer said at a news conference at a Chatham restaurant. “And unbeknownst to me, and I think unbeknownst to everybody there, the mayor proceeded to state ‘As you leave out, we have something for you.’ And there were checks for $20,000.”
Sawyer seems likely to win a thirdterm representing the 6th Ward, and noted he doesn’t face as tough a re-election fight as some of his colleagueswho also got checks and might want to use the mayoral windfall to buy mailers or other campaign advertising to stave off challengers who will try to tie them to Emanuel’s policies.
But he also acknowledged financial support from Emanuel might not be politically helpful to aldermen in parts of the city where the mayor is deeply unpopular.
“It’s a political challenge, obviously,” he said. “I’m a person that’s a student of politics, and I understand the optics.”
Sawyer, who chairs the City Council Black Caucus, will cut $2,000 checks to each of 10 community organizations, groups working on anti-violence initiatives and job training programs in the ward. And he wondered if other council members who got the checks would follow his lead.
“It’s no ill intent, I think the mayor would be happy I’ve done this with the money, quite honestly,” Sawyer said. “Actually ... a lot ofmy colleagues should follow suit, and do some great things with those real boots-on-the-ground organizations in their individual areas thatwe should really be funding.”
Emanuel has promised “no friend gets left on the field” when he leaves office after this term, pledging to be helpful to those aldermen who backed his agenda.
Emanuel is set to give his 2019 budget address nextweek.
And while the electionyear spending package promises to be one of the easiest of his two terms after massive tax and fee increases in prior years, a mayoral adviser told the Tribune that he will touch on the support he has gotten from some members of the council in passing politically difficult ordinances in the past.