CHICAGO (CBS) — With two weeks to go in the race for mayor, the big issues for the candidates continue to be crime, education and the economy.
On Tuesday, the candidates were talking about the city’s budget and how to bring more jobs to Chicago.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine has been trying to figure out who’s who and where they differ in the race to succeed Mayor Richard M. Daley.
For the most part, it’s hard to tell the candidates apart when it comes to their stances on the issues. They all want to streamline government, eliminate duplication, maximize savings on purchases and cut garbage collection costs.
As the race gets closer to the finish line, candidates Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico appear to be pulling away from the rest of the field.
Emanuel has been polling at more than 40 percent recently and appears within reach of the 50 percent plus one needed to avoid a runoff. Recent polls also have showed Chico leap-frogging Carol Moseley Braun to take second place behind Emanuel.
Chico is a career CEO who brags about all the budgets he’s balanced and deficits he’s eliminated. Emanuel has been the right-hand man of two presidents, with the reputation as a backyard brawler who doesn’t pick fights he can’t win.
“I’ve been waiting for this entire campaign to finally use a four-letter word in public,” Emanuel joked on Tuesday about his notorious use of profanity. “Today I get to use one: jobs. J-o-b-s.”
Emanuel chose a West Side T-shirt factory to unveil his plan to cut half a billion dollars from the city budget.
“On day one, I will order a government-wide spending freeze,” Emanuel said.
He said he a department-by-department review and $75 million dollars in budget cuts within 60 days.
Chico has called for a citywide audit and a 20 percent pay cut for himself and all department heads. He won’t talk dollars until he sees the numbers.
Both Emanuel and Chico have called for merging or eliminating departments which do the same thing.
Job creation is a huge part of both their plans.
“I want Chicago to be the city of big ideas with big opportunities,” Emanuel said.
He talked about a proposed research campus, perhaps on the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital.
The plan is similar to Chico’s proposed home for the American Center for Cures, dedicated to the elimination rather than treatment of disease.
Chico has proposed enticing new business with sweet deals on vacant city-owned land.
The two candidates have different styles, with similar objectives; though in some cases, no ready answers for problems like severely underfunded pension systems
“We’re gonna sit down in a room and talk like civilized adults, because these people (city workers) have put sweat and time into building the city like all of us have and they deserve to be heard,” Chico said.
“There are different parts that make up the sustainability of the pension. (Employee) contributions is only one aspect of it, there are other parts that make it up and that’s what we will collectively negotiate to get it on a sustainable path,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel and Chico are also going toe-to-toe on television, spending a combined $1.5 million this week alone.
Miguel del Valle never planned much paid media. Carol Moseley Braun has failed to raise enough money to afford it.
All four candidates are scheduled to participate in three more televised debates scheduled this week and next.