Emanuel hints he’s inclined to pick Latino to replace Mendoza as city clerk

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Susana Mendoza, Democratic candidate for state comptroller, enters the Empire room with husband David Szostak on Nov. 8, 2016, at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune)

The City Hall parlor game of aspirants lining up support to be the next city clerk has been going on for months, but now that Susana Mendoza has won election as state comptroller the jockeying can commence in earnest.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets to pick Mendoza’s successor to finish her term as clerk, a post that has been held by a Latino since 2006. On Wednesday, the mayor hinted he will honor the Hispanic claim to the office, helping maintain the delicate racial harmony among Chicago Democrats, but he did not set a timeline or discuss specific hopefuls.

"I’d be less than honest if I didn’t sit here and tell you I’ve thought about it," Emanuel said the morning after Mendoza unseated Republican Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger. "No one group has a hold on any seat. Look at me. That said, the Hispanic community in the city of Chicago has a lot to offer, and I’m going to be consulting a wide group of people about either their aspirations or their ideas."

Latino Caucus Chairman Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, said the group this week will submit the names of five of its members to Emanuel for consideration. In addition to himself, Cardenas said the hopefuls are Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno, 1st; Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th; Ald. Daniel Solis, 25th; and Ald. Ariel Reboyras, 30th.

Cardenas, who chairs the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, pointed to his experience as an alderman since 2003 and his business background, saying he’s one of several members of the Latino Caucus with "the experience and relationships required for a citywide position."

Reboyras, 30th, is a trusted Emanuel ally on the City Council. He chairs the key Public Safety Committee and helped shepherd the mayor’s Police Department reform ordinance this fall. Reboyras confirmed Wednesday that he wants the job, but declined to talk about it further.

Lopez is one of five members of the council’s LGBT Caucus. That could be appealing to Emanuel if the mayor wants to run again in 2019 and position himself as part of a broad coalition. But the mayor would risk ticking off longer tenured aldermen if he picked Lopez, a freshman alderman.

The 15th Ward council member said he’s concentrating on the concerns of his constituents on the Southwest Side. "With that being said, if I was called to serve as clerk, I would be happy to do it," Lopez said.

Solis, another dependable Emanuel vote on the council, heads the powerful Zoning Committee. Solis, the longest-tenured Hispanic alderman, could not be reached for comment.

And Moreno, who helped craft the city’s plastic bag ban, chairs the council Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development. He has expressed his interest in being named clerk in the past, but could not be reached Wednesday.

State Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, said she, too, is interested in being named clerk. "There’s still a lot of dust in the air from the election, and we need to let that settle, but I certainly think I have experience that makes me a strong candidate," Martinez said Wednesday.

Emanuel is not in a hurry, and other applicants are being discussed. Mendoza doesn’t get sworn in as comptroller until January, and in the meantime, the mayor has a 2017 budget to pass. While he’s in no danger of seeing the City Council give his feel-good spending plan a thumbs down, Emanuel can better ensure the support of some aldermen by not making his decision until after the vote.

Chicago Tribune’s Hal Dardick contributed.

jebyrne@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @_johnbyrne