Carol Moseley Braun kicks off campaign for mayor

November 22, 2010

By John Chase, Tribune reporter

Seizing on a message she used two decades ago in her historic run for the U.S. Senate, Carol Moseley Braun announced Saturday she was running for Chicago mayor to be a voice for the unheard and an advocate for the underrepresented.

“This great city can’t survive if some Chicagoans are treated like second class citizens,” Braun told about 150 supporters gathered outside on the chilly morning at Northerly Island along the lakefront. “This city must continue to grow with the support of and inclusion of every neighborhood, every community.”

After filing signature petitions last week to run for mayor, Braun’s announcement was certainly no surprise. She had several local elected leaders supporter her at her rally, including U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who led the crowd in a “Yes Carol Can!” chant, borrowing from the “Yes We Can” mantra used by President Barack Obama.

Braun made history in 1992 when she became the first African-American woman elected to the Senate. But her positive publicity didn’t last and six years later Braun lost to RepublicanPeter Fitzgerald following a troubled term that included an investigation in whether she abused spending in her campaign fund. Braun was also criticized for taking controversial trips to Nigeria, during which she met with the nation’s military dictator without the knowledge of the U.S. government.

Later, she was an ambassador and most recently started an organic coffee and tea company. Braun alluded to the political scrapes of her past as she attempted to re-energize her voting bloc.

“I have been tested and strengthened and I now understand that challenges make us rise to be the best we can be,” she said. “We cannot always avoid the rocks that might be thrown at us, but we can persevere.”

Almost at the beginning of her 24-minute speech, Braun took a shot at one of her mayoral opponents,Rahm Emanuel, for speeches and commercials he’s aired stating the election to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley means Chicagoans need to decide if they will pick a leader who will help Chicago “continue to be a great city or become a second tier city.”

“Mr. Emanuel, your commercials pose a completely false choice,” she said. “You may not understand it, but the challenge we face is not whether Chicago will be a second tier city, but whether our city will be great for all its citizens.”

Braun said if elected she’d work hard for senior citizens, saying she’ll assuage their fears of gang members and protect the pensions of those who are city workers. She also criticized city contracting for not including enough women and minority businesses, and said she’d work to eliminate insider deals and no-bid contracts.

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