Feb. 20--Saying airports produce jobs, Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool endorsed plans for a new airport in Peotone Sunday.
In a joint news conference with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Claypool said the proposed facility, dubbed Abraham Lincoln National Airport, would help an area that truly needs it.
Claypool, a candidate for Cook County Board president, called airports "unparalleled economic engines."
He said O'Hare International Airport has been a boon to the city's Northwest Side and northwest suburbs, which he represents on the County Board.
"The South Side and southern suburbs need similar engines of growth," Claypool said.
Claypool's support of Jackson's plan was not, however, enough to win Jackson's endorsement in the March 21 Democratic primary.
Jackson has endorsed two County Board candidates who are challenging John Stroger loyalists, and on Sunday he praised Claypool for his vision on the Peotone airport. But, as he has in the past, Jackson declined to back either Claypool or incumbent Stroger.
"I have not made a judgment as to whether or not I will endorse a candidate in the race for County Board president," Jackson said. "Suffice it to say I am concerned about waste in county government. I am concerned about inefficiencies in county government."
Jackson's comments came less than two hours before a candidate forum in Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side, where both Claypool and Stroger were panelists.
After answering questions from the audience, Stroger told reporters that he has no opinion on Jackson's plan for the Peotone airport. The airport, if built, would be in Will County.
"I'm not anti-anything about the airport. I'm not pro," Stroger said.
"I'm just concentrating and focusing on the county government."
Stroger also said he has no plans to debate Claypool before the March 21 Democratic primary.
"I've been in more discussions with Claypool than I need to," Stroger said.
He said his campaign staff has told him not to debate Claypool, and that he wouldn't "unless something unforeseen occurs."
Claypool, who ran the Chicago Park District from 1993-98 and served two stints as Mayor Richard Daley's chief of staff, said he would welcome a debate with Stroger.
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