CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged the voters — who ousted Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez Tuesday — sent a message that they were unhappy with how the Laquan McDonald case was handled.
"I don't need just an election to know that we have a lot of responsibility — post-Laquan McDonald and what happened in that situation — to do our work," Emanuel said. "I think that voters were clear that they want to see a change."
Emanuel also denied that the candidates had exiled him to the sidelines this election — even though he made few campaign appearances this primary — and insisted he was focused on governing. He said he was making the reforms called for by the Laquan McDonald case, such as police body cameras, Tasers, better training and public transparency.
"People want to see progress," he said. "They want to see fundamental reforms and changes made, across a waterfront of issues, and they want to see, most important, us getting our work done."
He was asked his reaction to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sander's attempts to tie Emanuel to Hillary Clinton — and whether it led to her razor-thin margin of victory in her native state.
"People know where I stand with Hillary," he said, referring to his support for Clinton's candidacy.
He cited a number of issues associated with Sanders — increasing the minimum wage and household income, making college and health care more affordable — and said those concerns were shared by both Clinton and Sanders and by most of the American electorate, himself included.
In trying to explain the appeal of Sanders, a senator from Vermont, and, indirectly, Donald Trump. "Our politics is a reflection of our economic well-being," Emanuel said. "The reason you have disquiet and angst in our political system is because of our economic system. People are hurting."
Asked if Sanders should drop out of the race, Emanuel deferred.
"There's only one person who can make that decision," he said. "That's Sen. Sanders."
Returning to the theme that governing is what matters, and pointing to how the state and federal governments are at a "standstill," Emanuel said, "The voters spoke. But it's not just on election day."
Without giving a hint about his own re-election plans, Emanuel said he was intent on achieving those needed reforms in law enforcement over the next three years.
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