Emanuel repays favor to Hudson

Ald. William Burns (4th), actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, Weight Watchers North America President David Burwick and Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut the ribbon for the opening of the new Weight Watchers center on the South Side. (Antonio Perez, Tribune / September 27, 2011)

Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson headlined a campaign fundraiser for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and today he returned the favor by joining the Chicago singer in opening a South Side Weight Watchers center that bears her name.

Emanuel appeared onstage with Hudson and used an oversize pair of scissors to help her cut the ribbon at the Kenwood neighborhood storefront location a few blocks from President Barack Obama's home.

The mayor said Hudson's work as a spokeswoman for the weight loss company promotes a healthy lifestyle and dovetails with his initiative to institute a "wellness program" for city workers that rewards employees with lower health care costs for participating. Emanuel also drew a connection between Hudson's weight loss work and his attempts to end "food deserts" in Chicago by bringing in more fresh food options.

"While this center is focused on weight loss, it's also about healthy living, not just about weight loss," Emanuel said.

Hudson appeared at a sold-out fundraiser for Emanuel Jan. 11 at House of Blues. Tickets to the fundraiser cost from $30 to $500, according to the Emanuel campaign.