No response from Ald. Mitts to debate request

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Tara Stamps is not the first person to accuse Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) of being a rubber stamp in the Chicago City Council.

But she’s one of few to give the alderman a chance to defend herself in a debate, a request Mitts has apparently ignored.

Stamps is one of three candidates challenging the longtime incumbent in the Feb. 24 municipal election. The other two challengers are former CAPS facilitator Leroy Duncan and Chicago Park District employee Maretta Brown-Miller, who ran in the 2011 election.

On Tuesday, Stamps issued a statement challenging Mitts to a debate. She charged the alderman with siding with Mayor Rahm Emanuel too often.

A study done by the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago found the alderman voted with the first-term mayor 97 percent of the time in 67 roll call votes from June 2011 to November 2014.

“For 15 years, the families of the 37th Ward have been represented by a rubber-stamp alderman who has consistently curried favor with the wealthy and powerful instead of standing up for us,” the statement said.

The statement also accused Mitts of siphoning away resources from neighborhood schools to “politically connected charter operators.”

Mitts did not return a request for comment on Thursday to address these accusations, or to discuss if she had talked to Stamps about the debate.

Stamps’ spokeswoman said they haven’t heard a word from the alderman, calling it a “real disappointment.”

“(Thirty-seventh) Ward voters should have a chance to hear from the people who want to represent them in City Hall,” spokeswoman Emma Tai said in an e-mail to AustinTalks.

Community groups usually organize debates, but it’s not uncommon for a candidate to challenge another, said Dick Simpson, a political science professor at UIC who co-authored study with the voting data.

“My sense is that there are fewer debates in the 29th and 37th wards,” Simpson said.

Tai said Stamps plans on attending a forum 6 p.m. Jan. 29 hosted by the West Side Chicago chapter of the NAACP at Amberg Hall inside Bethel New Life, 1140 N. Lamon Ave.


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