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Karen Lewis 'Listening Tour' in South Shore Draws About 100 People

By Quinn Ford | September 9, 2014 8:12am | Updated on September 9, 2014 8:14am
 Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis continued her 'listening tour' Monday evening in South Shore as she mulls over a mayoral run.
Karen Lewis Continues 'Listening Tour' In South Shore
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SOUTH SHORE — Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis held another stop on her "listening tour" Monday evening in South Shore, as she continues to mull a run for mayor.

Although Lewis stayed mum on when she would make a decision whether or not to jump in the race, she did say she has begun asking supporters to contribute money.

Last week, Lewis donated $40,000 of her own money to her nascent campaign, Citizens to Elect Karen Lewis Mayor of Chicago, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Monday night, Lewis called the money a "loan" to show she was serious about deciding whether to take on Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"I did put some of my own money [in] because I'm also ready to ask other people to put money in because that's going to make the real decision about whether I run," Lewis said. "And if people don't see that I'm serious about putting money in, then they won't either."

Lewis then made a joke about people bringing out their checkbooks, which got some laughs from the some 100 people who came out for an event at The Quarry, 2423 E. 75th St.

Val Free, director of the South Shore Planning Coalition, the group who hosted Monday's event, said the size of the crowd was indicative of "how desperate" South Shore was for change.

"She definitely knows how to pull a crowd," Free said of Lewis. "On a weekday, this is a good turnout. I think the community is energized and looking for change."

Lewis fielded questions from a moderator on a number of topics, from standardized testing to public safety to tax increment financing.

The fiery union president billed herself as "nerd" who is a student of public policy and wants to see transparent participatory budgeting when it comes to city finances.

Although she did not mention Emanuel by name, Lewis took many shots at "the current administration" over things like school closings. She charged that everyday Chicagoans are being ignored.

Dwayne Moore, a Greater Grand Crossing resident in the audience Monday, said he liked what he heard from Lewis.

"I think she would make a good candidate," Moore said. "I particularly like the fact that she wants to include more Chicagoans and get serious input from every neighborhood."

Lewis told reporters afterward her "listening tour" has been "very helpful."

"You know it's putting me in a better position to understand, and it also will affect the policy work we do," she said. "People have some ideas about what works and what doesn't and they're willing to share, so I think that's really exciting."

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