Ex-Ald. Oberman: Campaigns need public financing to be fair

5 Mar

By Evan Taylor

Martin J. Oberman served as alderman of Chicago’s 43rd Ward from 1975 to 1987. He was an acknowledged expert of the city budget and a constant adversary of the Chicago City Council’s heavy-handed political majority.

After leaving the City Council, Oberman was appointed Chairman of the Shore Protection Commission, which was tasked with doing a rehabilitation of Chicago’s shoreline while ensuring environmental protection. He ran for Illinois Attorney General in 1981, 1986 and again in 1994. Currently, he is a lawyer in private practice.

Here are some observations he had about the Feb. 22 election:

Q: What was the main thing you were surprised about during this election?

A: Nothing at all. This election was very predictable.

Q: What is the main point you gathered from the results of this election?

A: The point was that this election was never really much of a contest. We had one very strong candidate and a bunch of other weak candidates. The candidates were weak because they didn’t have nearly as much money as Rahm Emanuel. Only Gery Chico had any money, and compared to Rahm, it was nothing. Carol Moseley Braun was just sort of a goofball, and Miguel del Valle was not charismatic at all.

Q: How does 2010 election campaigning in the Chicago area compare to past mid-term elections?

A: This election was unique. It is the first time we have had an election without someone named Daley on the ballot in a very long time. Because there was not a familiarity of the incumbent, people took more in depth interest in the candidates, however it did not result in much turnout.

Q: What is your assessment of Chicago media coverage of the 2010 political campaigning?

A: It was not very good. There was too much focus on Rahm’s residency and not enough on the key issues like how we would balance the budget. The media let all the candidates get away with a lot of generalities.

Q: What changes would you like to see in future election campaigning?

A: I am a big believer in public financing. Because Rahm had a much greater amount of funding for his campaign it was not a level playing field. This would greatly affect the results of the election.

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