By Mark Wachtler
July 2, 2014. Chicago. (ONN) – Greg Mitchell is a lifelong 7th Ward resident and political reformer who ran against convicted Alderwoman Sandi Jackson in 2011, in a crowded field no less, and finished an impressive third to the establishment’s Jackson and Beavers dynasties. After Jackson’s conviction, Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed a little known insider to replace her, Natashia Holmes. She’s a proud “Emanuel Loyalist” now. But is she tied to a sinking ship?
Greg Mitchell, second-time 7th Ward Aldermanic candidate for 2015. Image courtesy of MitchellForAlderman.com.
Greg Mitchell 2015
Greg Mitchell officially announced his candidacy for 7th Ward Alderman two weeks ago at the Pretty Donkey Coffee house on the southeast side. He says his first run against two multi-generational Machine politicians like Sandi Jackson and Darcel Beavers taught him much. He finished third among six candidates, capturing 14% of the vote.
“Our first campaign taught us a lot about what is needed to be victorious this time around and we will make that happen in 2015,” Mitchell told supporters, “We have a campaign platform that puts people ahead of politics, a solid support base, and the endorsement of key stakeholders in the community - for me it’s personal, not politics.”
“Born here, raised here, stays here”
Mitchell’s campaign slogan says a lot about his history in the community. The 45-year resident in the 7th Ward wants his fellow residents to know that unlike the past few Aldermen, including possibly the current one, he doesn’t have Washington or Springfield on his mind. His one and only priority will be the 7th Ward and its long-ignored residents.
In 2013 when newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel hand-picked Sandi Jackson’s replacement, many Ward residents thought Greg Mitchell should have been the choice. The eventual appointee, Natashia Holmes, hadn’t even been one of the six candidates for the office. Not only was Mitchell working to show his sincere desire to lead the Ward, but he finished ahead of all the other reformers on the ballot against the two tainted candidates Jackson and Beavers. Where was Natashia Holmes? That’s a good question.
The insider’s outsider
Newly appointed Alderwoman Natasia Holmes is popular where it counts - City Hall and the establishment media. The Chicago press portrays her as the unconnected non-politician that doesn’t know anybody, and who was carried out of the precincts on angels’ wings into the arms of a waiting Mayor who was blind with justice.
And a couple months later, that same Mayor made a deal with the devil and appointed the daughter of retiring Alderman Dick Mell as his replacement, the same man that gave us convicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. So, readers will have to judge for themselves just how uncorrupt the people and the process are that gave the 7th Ward Natashia Holmes.
Unlike the lifelong 7th Ward resident Greg Mitchell, Natashia Holmes was born and raised in Florida. And her political resume shows she’s no outsider. After moving to Chicago, she became a bureaucrat working for DuPage County. She then moved over to the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Council. From there, Holmes became an official at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
Looking to cash in on her connections with three different levels of American government by using the notorious public-private revolving door, Natashia Holmes then launched her own PR firm specializing in consulting government agencies. Little did she know she would hit the jackpot and see her establishment friends on the city, county and state level win her Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s personal appointment as 7th Ward Alderman.
When Mayor Emanuel appointed Natashia Holmes the 7th Ward Alderman last year, WBEZ was on hand to talk to the new Councilwoman. The station gave an ominous description of the southeast side’s newest Alderwoman. ‘Holmes delivered a few scripted remarks before Emanuel whisked her away,’ the network reported at the time, ‘When asked what her priorities will be, Holmes didn’t give specifics.’
Compare that to the response Aldermanic candidate Greg Mitchell gave this reporter at about the same time. “I am excited at the possibility of becoming the next Alderman of the 7th Ward and representing my community of over 40 years,” Mitchell told us while applying for the Aldermanic appointment in 2013, “The most critical issues facing the 7th Ward are underperforming neighborhood schools, increased crime and lack of jobs.”
Another report from Chicago Magazine inadvertently shines a light on just how much effort Alderwoman Holmes made to get the job. Describing to the magazine how it all happened, she said, “I was living in the 7th Ward when Sandi Jackson’s seat became available. I’ve lived there for almost nine years now. I went to a friend’s party there and I was like, ‘What neighborhood is this? I love it. I have to move here.’ When the position became open I was like, ‘Wow, this a job I could do.’”
With Mayor Emanuel’s approval rating crashing to an all-time low of 29%, and with an even lower approval rating in the 7th Ward, the stars may be aligning for second-time candidate Greg Mitchell. Like his campaign slogan says - born here, raised here, stays here. Mitchell’s 2015 Aldermanic campaign website is at MitchellForAlderman.com.
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