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Teachers Union President Still Considering Run Against Emanuel

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has returned to Chicago from her vacation in Hawaii, still thinking about a run for mayor — but apparently no closer to making a decision.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

“I’m still seriously considering it, I haven’t ruled it out,” Lewis said Thursday.

She’s not filed any papers or formed any formal committees. But when pressed, Lewis admits that behind the scenes, there’s plenty going on.

“We’ve hired no staff,” Lewis said. “I haven’t said I’m not starting to raise money. We’re going to have small little coffee klatches and have conversations around the city.”

Mayor Emanuel, on the other hand, has $8 million in his campaign war chest and another $1 million in a related political action fund. Lewis says she agrees with the mayor’s priorities of safe streets, strong schools, and stable finances. On the other hand, she says:

“You don’t get to that through a command-and-control austerity budget that polarizes people, that shifts public funds into private control.”

Lewis said she would be able to work with CTU leaders if she were mayor. She and Emanuel famously do not get along; the union’s strike in 2012 was a sore spot for the mayor.

Property tax hikes and an austerity budget, Lewis says, are not the answer.

She says she’s considering taxes on services and goods that currently are not.

Past suggestions of “transaction taxes” have already led to howls of protest on LaSalle Street and threats by exchanges to relocate. And it was Emanuel himself who proposed, then abandoned, the idea of a tax on services when a primary opponent branded it “the Rahm tax.”