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Media black-out of qualified mayoral candidate compromises our democracy; disrespects Chicago voters

Candidate for Mayor, Dr. Patricia Van-Pelt Watkins

I think Chicago Mayoral candidate Patricia Van Pelt Watkins is a force to be reckoned with.   In my opinion, she represents what it means to be a true public servant.   I recently had the pleasure of interviewing her on Perspective (the show airs Sunday, January 30th on MY50 Chicago) and earlier today by phone.   You can hear the unedited, 5 minute phone interview here:


In short, she has a long and impressive background.   Watkins has spent the last 30 + years as a public servant.   As the founder and CEO  of the  Target Area Development Corp., she grew a budget  from $10,000 to $3 million and generated hundreds of jobs.   She also shepherded passage of landmark criminal justice legislation through the Illinois legislature by uniting states attorneys and the ex-offenders they prosecuted.

Watkins  also taught residents how to empower themselves by staking out corners and peaceably banishing drug-dealers from their neighborhoods. Her legacy of public service doesn’t stop there.   Watkins has  worked for decades to improve education by recruiting more diversity to the teaching profession and promoting efforts to reduce violence in our schools.

Needless to say Dr. Patricia Watkins has been committed to “we the people.”   Not the establishment.   Not a specific political party.   Not one race, group, union or organization.   She simply wants what is best for the citizens and communities of our great city.   But now that she’s running for mayor, her message has been almost completely ignored.   You would think she’s some kind of peon out here just trying to detract from the process.   But that is not the case.   She is a legitimate candidate whose voice deserves to be heard.

So why (until just recently) has the media almost completely ignored her message?   Why has she literally been shut out from participating on the major candidate debates?

The only answer I’ve been able to get from the organizers of one of the upcoming debates is that “she’s not showing up in the polls” and “we can’t just have everybody in on the debates…” Huh????   So you mean you are having a mayoral debate featuring the candidates but not all of the candidates will be featured???   How can someone “show up” in the polls if they’re platform isn’t given any publicity via the news media? Why is it that an outsider like Rahm Emmanueal is annointed and basically chosen for Chicagoans by the media? That makes no sense.   In fact, it is a complete infringement upon the right of chicagoans to hear and get to know the candidates that they have to choose from in this election.

By not allowing Van-Pelt Watkins to participate, the media and debate organizers are trampling on democracy as we know it. If citizens of Chicago don’t raise their voices and demand that the media and mayoral debate organizers allow all legitimate candidates to have their say, they might as well get ready for more corruption, more cronyism, more shady contract deals, more homelessness, less opportunities for hard-working people  and more business as usual in our “world-class city.”

February 22, 2011  will be  a  game-changing election day here in Chicago.   Chicagoans must decide if they truly want a city that works for everyone or just for the chosen few.   I believe that our silence about the shut-out of lesser known but no less qualified candidates will bring us exactly what we deserve: more of the same warmed-over and oppressive policies that only work to the benefit of the elite. This is an election to get fired up about. We’ll see if citizens are courageous enough to send a powerful message that Chicago truly is ready for change.

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