On Chicago Election Day, Write Early and Often, Alt-Paper Urges

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Tuesday, Chicago goes to the poll to elect a mayor — well, actually to re-elect a mayor — and the Chicago Reader wants its readers to be literal poll watchers.

The alternative weekly is asking readers to send stories and pictures from neighborhood polling places that will be posted on its political blog “Clout City.”

“We’d like to try a little experiment in citizen journalism, picking up on (Reader political writer) Ben Joravsky’s longtime habit of prowling the precincts on election day looking for offbeat tales to tell,” Executive Editor Mike Lenehan wrote on Clout City. “Keep your eyes and ears open, ask questions if you need to, carry your camera or picture phone, and e-mail your anecdotes and photos to us at cloutcity@chicagoreader.com . Our editors will be manning the inbox from 8 AM until 8 PM at least, longer if it gets interesting.”

The mayoral race is unlikely to get interesting. Mayor Richard M. Daley looks to be a shoo-in for his seventh term in office. While the two other candidates in the non-partisan election are more credible than his opposition in recent elections — one is the current clerk of the county courts, the other is a former aide to the late Mayor Harold Washington, and both are African-American — neither campaign has managed to get any traction.

There are, however, several spirited aldermanic elections in the great Chicago tradition. In one ward, two candidates convicted in a bribery scandal were tossed off the ballot last week because they are felons, while two former alderman convicted in the same scandal have not been prevented from running in two other wards. One aldermanic race pits the daughter-in-law of the Rev. Jesse Jackson against the daughter of another black political powerhouse.

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