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Garcia Walking Political Tightrope With Obama Library Stance

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 3, 2015 5:45PM

Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.
Cook County Commissioner and mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is walking a tightrope with his stance on the Obama Presidential Library, one Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign hopes to exploit as a wedge issue as the two head into an April 7 runoff.

Chicagoist asked the Garcia campaign for a comment on his stance about using public land for the University of Chicago’s bid for the Obama Library. This is what Garcia spokeswoman Monica Trevino sent us, which is consistent with his previous comments.

"I have never wavered in my full support of bringing the Obama Presidential Library to Chicago. I served with the President in the Illinois Senate. I have always supported President Obama. His legacy -- and his library -- belongs right here, in Chicago.

"While it is my view that the library does not have to come at the expense of public park land that has enormous historical significance for everyone in Chicago, I will support the South or West side site. As mayor, I will do everything within my power to make certain that the Obama Presidential Library is built in Chicago, and that the jobs and contracts that go with it benefit the community, as well.

To read the Tribune, Garcia only recently reversed his stance on the subject.

Under the increased scrutiny and pressure of a one-on-one campaign against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on Monday dropped his monthslong opposition to allowing a Barack Obama presidential library to be built on city parkland.

Garcia’s decision to back an Obama library no matter the location came after Emanuel’s campaign tried to make an issue out of the Cook County commissioner’s opposition to the public parcels that would be required for a pair of South Side sites that are part of the University of Chicago’s library bid.

And here’s what Garcia’s deputy campaign manager Sylvia Ewing told DNAInfo Chicago.

"He will absolutely support the decision of the community."

Read between the lines and what you’re seeing is a deft dance to not alienate black voters, which are emerging as a voting bloc both Garcia and Emanuel need in order to win the runoff. The latest polls from Ogden & Fry have the two in a statistical dead heat a week after Emanuel failed to win re-election outright. Emanuel’s stance on the Obama Library and his plan to cede over 20 acres of Chicago Park District property to U. of C. if they win the bidding for the library will be seen as favorable by South Side black voters who want to see the Library on their side of town.

For community leaders like Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church Rev. Leon Finney, Garcia’s position isn’t enough. Finney is demanding clarification from Garcia and told DNAInfo “too much is at stake to quibble at this late hour.”