Mitchell was taking a break from knocking on doors at his Spartan campaign office in a runoff contest he said he thinks he can only win with a strong a ground campaign against a candidate who has the financial backing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“We know people who went with the other candidates and I’m going after them,” said Mitchell, who has enlisted other alums of Kenwood Academy, old friends from Jeffery Manor and anyone else who will volunteer to go door-to-door.
Despite being behind in early polls, Mitchell squeaked by to finish in second place by 149 votes in a crowded field of eight candidates on Feb. 24, securing himself a spot in the runoff against Holmes. He grabbed 20.1 percent of the vote, behind Holmes' 25.4 percent.
“Elections are about math, we did the numbers and we put people in the streets,” Mitchell said. “Myself and my team need to stick to our game plan, and we need to grind the gears and hit the streets.”
The former financial analyst for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is hoping the numbers improve as the race shifts to a one-on-one contest and both candidates scramble to enlist the supporters of the six defeated candidates.
Mitchell is already in high gear. While he was the only one at the campaign office at 2342 E. 75th St. on Tuesday, Mitchell frequently had to pause as his phone chirped with the sounds of campaign workers checking in from Calumet Heights, South Chicago, South Shore and other parts of the ward.
He said the message he takes from the voters is the need for improved service at the ward office. If elected, the former manager of a corporate help desk promises a consistently positive experience with aldermanic staff, responses to concerns within 24 hours and a more systematic approach to abandoned and foreclosed properties.
Mitchell said he thinks the recent turnaround in the real estate market in areas like Calumet Heights can be spread across the ward if the alderman’s office puts more attention on identifying vacant properties and getting them secured and cleaned up before they became havens for the homeless or a victim of arson.
It’s a message more honed for the neighborhood during a race that is already hyper-focused on the citywide issues of the mayor’s race, one that Mitchell said he’s staying out of.
Though portions of South Chicago sided with Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Mitchell said he will not seek Garcia’s support because he’s personally unsure who will win and he wants to be able to go into office not beholden to anyone or at the wrong end of a grudge.
“When I win, I’ll be a freshman alderman and I’ll need to find my way,” Mitchell said.
Voters head back to the polls in the 7th Ward on April 7.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: