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Ald. Anthony Beale joins race for 2nd Congressional District

Updated: November 29, 2012 1:45PM



Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) on Thursday jumped into the crowded race for Congress to replace his former political mentor, Jesse Jackson Jr., and said he’ll stay in the race, whether or not he is slated by Democratic ward bosses.

Beale was elected to the City Council in 1999 with Jackson’s help, only to break with the now-disgraced former congressman over Jackson’s efforts to control him.

The alderman now hopes to stand out from the crowd on the strength of his winning crusade to bring a Wal-Mart to Pullman Park, ending a six-year-long battle over the world’s largest retailer’s $1 billion Chicago expansion.

In 2010, Beale’s persistence helped him leapfrog over fellow Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) to win Chicago’s second Wal-Mart for his impoverished South Side ward.

It happened after Wal-Mart and organized labor cut an unprecedented deal that calls for the world’s largest retailer to pay its starting Chicago employees at least $8.75-an-hour — 50 cents above Illinois’ minimum wage.

“I’m the only candidate in this race [who] has created thousands of jobs. ... One project alone has created 3,000 to 4,000 jobs. That’s the kind of leadership we need,” he said.

“To bring labor and Wal-Mart together is just one example of bringing two large entities together for the greater good of the community. My leadership in being able to obtain that will transfer. Hopefully, we can bring people together to understand that there is a need in the Southland for a third airport and bring those people together to ... create those thousands of jobs.”

Asked how he plans to raise the $500,000 it’s likely to take to win the abbreviated campaign, Beale said, “The old-fashioned way. We’re gonna make phone calls and get people to buy into my vision.”

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), powerful chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee, said she pledged her support to Beale two years ago and plans to keep her word to him.

“He understands the hardships of the 2nd Congressional District because he has lived in it and worked in it. Those hardships that we have that we have not been able to see addressed by the former congressman, he has more of the ground part of what needs to be done,” Austin said.

“In the years that I’ve watched him work on an effort such as Wal-Mart for his community, I believe that he will bring that same zeal to the 2nd Congressional District.”

The Wal-Mart crusade was a crowning achievement for Beale, but he has also had his share of controversy.

In 2009, Beale became the second Chicago aldermen to concede that his daughter was admitted to Whitney Young Magnet school, one of Chicago’s elite college prep high schools, after he called Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner.

Both Beale and Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) said they never pressured Kenner to accept their children as so-called principal picks and both said they made similar calls for constituents.

Earlier this year, Beale became embroiled in the controversy over Illinois’ scandal-scarred legislative scholarship program.

The Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association reported on a $37,000 tuition waiver state Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) awarded to Beale’s daughter. Beale was a political ally of Rita’s who endorsed Rita for the State House. The alderman’s wife is employed by Rita as a $400-a-month staffer.

As chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee, Beale infuriated rank-and-file police officers by targeting their supplemental pay and proposing more power for “rent-a-cops.” He has also pushed the Police Department to reallocate resources to higher-crime districts.

Beale currently chairs the Transportation Committee.

Jackson resigned from Congress last week, citing health issues related to bipolar disorder and an ongoing federal investigation into his finances and campaign spending.



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