The Most Important Election of 2011: Mayor of Chicago

It takes resolute determination and abiding faith in our democracy to put yourself on the line, day in and day out, because you believe in public service. These are some of the qualities I most admire about former Ambassador and U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun.

The National Organization for Women Equality PAC and the Chicago NOW PAC have endorsed Carol Moseley Braun in perhaps the most important election of 2011 — mayor of Chicago. Moseley Braun has an impressive resume of 25 years of public service fighting for the rights of women at the local, state, national and international levels.

NOW and Carol Moseley Braun have been longtime allies, from planning the campaign to pass the ERA in Illinois to working for women’s rights during her tenure in the Illinois state legislature, U.S. Senate, and as co-chair of the NOW National Board’s Advisory Committee.

Moseley Braun broke down barriers and made history when she became the first African-American woman to serve as assistant majority leader in the Illinois House, the first woman and African-American to hold executive office in Cook County Government, and in 1992 when she was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

Carol is running a grassroots, neighborhood based campaign that is worlds apart from that of her rival, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Instead of a “one size fits all” standard resembling a national campaign in its glitz and poll-driven pronouncements, Carol Moseley Braun is bringing street-sense and savvy ability to this election.

Carol recently told an interviewer:

“Leave no neighborhood’ behind should be our motto,” she says. “We used to have jobs in the neighborhoods in which we lived. Now, you have boarded-up stores in neighborhoods in which young people have no hope of employment. If we can create jobs in the neighborhoods, we can strengthen the neighborhoods, and we will begin to support public safety initiatives there.”

Carol Moseley Braun has never wavered nor bowed to political pressure in her commitment to social and economic justice for all. Among her many accomplishments, Moseley Braun has a perfect record supporting reproductive rights, starting in the Illinois state legislature in 1978.

As State Representative Carol sponsored the state’s first minority and female set aside legislation. And as US Senator, Carol successfully passed into law the first 5 percent procurement goal for women-owned business in federal contracting and successfully fought efforts to repeal tax incentives for minority ownership of broadcast properties. She also passed legislation to give women pension equity.

As the first African American woman in the U.S. Senate, and the only African American senator during her six year tenure, she stood up for civil rights and women’s equity time and time again including her courageous stand convincing the Senate to reverse itself and defeat the issuance of a special design patent on the insignia of the United Daughters of the Confederacy which contained the confederate flag.

Unlike Rahm Emanuel, who has been accused of holding back the Obama Administration from a vigorous defense of gay rights, Carol Moseley Braun’s commitment couldn’t be clearer. She worked alongside Mayor Harold Washington in creating Chicago’s first Gay and Lesbian Committee — which later evolved into the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Council — and fought for the passage of Chicago’s 1988 Gay and Lesbian Non-discrimination Act. Moseley Braun was the first U. S. Senator in our nation’s history to appoint an LGBT liaison for her constituency. And she was one of only 14 Senators to vote against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act — certainly not because it was politically advantageous, but because it was the right thing to do.

“As Mayor,” Carol says, “I want to not only continue the tradition Chicago has set in terms of being one of the most progressive leading cities in the country on LGBT rights, but I want to apply my long record, passion, and pioneerism towards ensuring there is not a next step but rather an end to ‘fighting’ for rights. Heterosexual individuals don’t have to fight for rights, why should the LGBT community? LGBT rights are civil rights. Period.”

The general election date is February 22. If no candidate receives over 50% of the vote, there will be a run-off election on April 5. A strong first or second place showing for Carol in February will give her momentum for victory in April.

The people of Chicago, particularly women, have a lot at stake in this election. A lot of the political “insiders” who are used to getting their way in Chicago think they can wrap up the Mayor’s office and present it like a trophy to one of their own. I think they’re wrong.

Carol Moseley Braun for Mayor!

Originally published on Terry O’Neill’s Huffington Post blog on January 21, 2011

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