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updated: 10/3/2012 7:05 AM

Emanuel criticizes candidate to lead sports authority

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Associated Press

Gov. Pat Quinn's top spokeswoman is in the running to lead the state agency that operates U.S. Cellular Field, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has signaled that she isn't the top candidate.

Quinn's communication's director Kelly Kraft interviewed last week for executive director of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday. Kraft, a former television reporter, started working for Quinn in the budget office in 2009. She was named Quinn's chief spokeswoman this year and has the support of Quinn in applying for the job.

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The agency, created in 1987, has been without a full-time executive director for more than a year. The authority could take on a bigger role if there's ever a public-private deal to help renovate Wrigley Field, something state and city leaders have previously discussed.

The ISFA's board has seven members; four are picked by the governor and three by the mayor. The executive director will be chosen by the board.

Emanuel's office said his appointees are "financial titans" who'll ensure the protection of Chicago taxpayers. They include retired LaSalle Bank Corp. president and CEO Norman Bobins and Mesirow Financial chairman and CEO Richard Price.

"He believes the executive director position should be filled by someone with the proven experience of managing large organizations to find cost savings and efficiencies," said a statement from Emanuel's office.

Kraft referred questions to Quinn spokesman Brooke Anderson, who said Kraft has extensive experience in budgets and bonds that make her well-equipped to manage the agency. Anderson also praised Kraft's marketing skills as an asset in managing the ballpark.

"Governor Quinn believes an honest, well-qualified, hardworking woman with strong marketing skills and proven experience implementing budgets and reducing the operational costs of state government is just what the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority needs," Anderson said in a statement.

Quinn's appointees include former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones.

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