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Poll: Whites Support New Mayor; Black Don’t

December 5, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ A majority of blacks disapprove of Eugene Sawyer as Chicago’s new mayor, while most whites approve of the veteran black alderman’s selection to replace the late Harold Washington, according to a survey.

The opinion poll, conducted by CBS News for WBBM-TV and released Friday, shows 62 percent of the blacks questioned disapproved and only 21 percent approved of Sawyer’s election Wednesday by the City Council. Sawyer was chosen with the support of most of council’s white aldermen.

Among whites, 57 approved of Sawyer as mayor while 20 percent disapproved.

Overall, 42 percent approved and 36 disapproved of the Council’s choice.

Pollsters contacted 713 Chicago residents Wednesday and Thursday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Sawyer appeared before a group of black ministers Friday, saying: ″I am black, I am proud. I would not turn back the hands of time. We have faced difficult days. This city must come together.″

Thousands of demonstrators, most of them blacks favoring Alderman Timothy Evans for mayor, marched on City Hall during the stormy City Council session that ended shortly before dawn Wednesday with Sawyer’s election. The demonstrators contend Sawyer made backroom deals to be elected mayor.

Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, a supporter of Washington, said Friday that Sawyer should have a grace period to see if he carries out Washington’s reform agenda.

″I have to accept him at his word,″ Jackson said at a news conference at Operation PUSH, the civil rights organization he founded.

″Mayor Sawyer supported Washington before. If he continues, that would be consistent,″ he said. ″It would just be fair and proper to afford Mayor Sawyer a grace period. Afford the respect he needs.″

″People must be vigilant - watch, work and wait.″

After the City Council elected him acting mayor early Wednesday, Sawyer said he would follow the reform agenda set by Washington, the city’s first black mayor, who died of a heart attack Nov. 25.

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