Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said today that the union would be “very active” in next year’s mayoral election, but offered little insight into efforts to recruit a challenger to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Underscoring her long standing pledge to oppose the mayor’s re-election, Lewis told the Tribune editorial board that, “on a scale of one to 10,” the union’s efforts would rate as “15.”
But with less than a year before the February election, Lewis could not name a preferred candidate, instead saying that the union has been “in talks” with and “doing a lot of vetting,” of people that are interested in entering the race.
She stopped short of discussing Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has not ruled out the possibility of challenging Emanuel.
Lewis on Monday praised Preckwinkle as someone whose style is “less confrontational.” Asked Tuesday if Preckwinkle would be the union’s ideal candidate, Lewis sidestepped.
“I don’t think there is such a thing as an ideal candidate,” she said. “I just think that there are people that would do better than what we have right now.”
Lewis is not one of those people, she said, emphatically ruling herself out as a potential candidate.
“This is how bad we are in Chicago, that they’re looking for a school teacher, right?” she said. She described herself as “just not a politician.”
Lewis made her remarks on the mayor’s race during a visit with the editorial board to pitch the CTU’s proposals for solving the school district’s pension crisis.
Among the union’s proposals is a new tax on financial transactions at the CME Group and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and a commuter tax on people who work in Chicago but live outside the city.
The union also wants to renegotiate its debt and delay expiration of some tax increment financing districts, which would allow it to generate billions of dollars in bonds.
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