Lori Lightfoot

2023 Chicago Mayoral Race: Who's In, and Who's Still Considering Challenging Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced her re-election bid Tuesday

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Seven candidates have thrown their name in the ring for 2023 Mayor of Chicago, including incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who announced her re-election campaign on Tuesday.

“I don’t look or sound like any other mayor we’ve ever had before, and I’ve had to fight to get a seat at the table. And, like so many in our city, I’ve had to fight to have my voice heard,” Lightfoot said in a campaign video released this week.

“That’s why I’ll never back down from fighting every day to turn your voice into action," she continued.

Lightfoot had hinted for months in interviews and public events that she planned to seek a second term in office, but didn't make an official announcement until this week.

Lightfoot's campaign is scheduled to make five stops neighborhood stops Wednesday, appealing to voters in Ashburn, Greater Grand Crossing, Little Village, Garfield Park and North Halstead.

But the race for mayor is a crowded field so far. Six other candidates have announced their intention to challenge Lightfoot, along with a handful of others who've stated they are still considering running.

Here is what we know about the race so far:

Officially Running for Chicago Mayor in 2023

This list is in order of who announced the earliest.

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward)

Lopez officially launched his candidacy for the mayoral race on April 7, calling the city a “rudderless ship” in need of new leadership.

“The time is now to provide our great city with the compassion and leadership it deserves. I’m in, and I hope Chicago will join me,” he said in a statement.

Lopez is currently Alderman for the 15th Ward, which includes West Englewood, Gage Park, Brighton Park, and Back of the Yards.

Dr. Willie Wilson

For the third time, businessman and philanthropist Dr. Willie Wilson will throw his hat into the ring and run for the job of mayor. Wilson announced his run April 11.

He says he will bring some big changes to the city if elected, including hiring several police superintendents to deal with violent crime and eliminating the city’s COVID vaccine mandate for employees.

“You’ve got to talk to people. You’ve got to communicate,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times in criticizing Lightfoot’s leadership style. “There’s no communication (with Lightfoot) unless it’s negative. If it doesn’t go her way, she takes it personally.”

State Rep. Kam Bucker (D)

Rep. Kam Bucker joined the 2023 Chicago Mayoral Race on May 12.

Buckner, a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives from the 26th District -- located entirely in the City of Chicago -- is the head of the Black Caucus in the House.

While he’s only been in the General Assembly for four years, Bucker played a key role in a recently-passed criminal justice reform bill and says he hopes to take those types of experiences into his campaign.

Buckner prioritized safety and investment in education during his initial tour discussing his candidacy.

“If you talk to anybody in Chicago, ask them if they feel safer,” he said. “Ask them if they feel like there’s a plan for our school system. If they’re business owners, ask them if they’re being supported, and a lot of the answers will be no.”

Frederick Collins

Chicago police officer Frederick Collins announced his second run for Chicago mayor on May 15.

The 29-year police veteran said he plans to tackle the “deadly crime sprees and carjackings that have plagued our city” and left residents feeling “unsafe and fearful.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Collins previously ran for mayor in 2015, but withdrew from the ballot while facing a challenge to his nominating petitions. Before that, he lost the Republican primary in his 2012 bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D) Then, in 2016, he ran as a Democrat when he challenged Rep. Danny Davis (D) but withdrew ahead of the primary.

Paul Vallas

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas announced his intention to run for Mayor of Chicago June 1.

Vallas was CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001. A year later, in 2002, Vallas ran against and narrowly lost to Rod Blagojevich in the Democratic primary for Illinois governor.

"Chicagoans from every corner of the city have encouraged, and more recently, urged me to run for mayor," Vallas said in a statement.

"It goes without saying that there is deep concern for the state of our city and its future as violent crime escalates, a broken school system fails students and their parents, and a runaway budget sets residents up for higher property taxes and diminished services."

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward)

The current City Council Member and son of former Mayor Eugene Sawyer entered the race for Chicago Mayor on June 2.

“I want to give the people a more collaborative option, where every voice matters," Lopez told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview. "The current administration’s style of governing is a top-down form of government. It’s not taking into consideration [Lightfoot's] partners, which is us as aldermen. Also, the citizens of Chicago.”

Sawyer, 59, is Lightfoot’s hand-picked chair of the City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations and former chair of the council’s Black Caucus.

Sawyer is Alderman to the 6th ward, which includes Chatham, West Chesterfield, Greater Grand Crowing and part of Englewood.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on June 7 officially announced her bid to run for mayor again in 2023.

“I don’t look or sound like any other mayor we’ve ever had before, and I’ve had to fight to get a seat at the table. And, like so many in our city, I’ve had to fight to have my voice heard,” Lightfoot said in a campaign video released Tuesday.

“That’s why I’ll never back down from fighting every day to turn your voice into action," she continued.

Lightfoot was elected to office in 2019 and pledged that with the chance at another term as mayor, she will work to make the city "safer, fairer and more equitable for all."

Three years ago, Lightfoot made history when she became Chicago's first Black, female and openly gay mayor. She also won in a landslide victory in all 50 wards against her opponent Cook County Commissioner Toni Preckwinkle.

During her time in office, Lightfoot has faced criticism from a number of groups, ranging from the Chicago Teachers Union in 2019 for her handling of the teachers' strike that year, to the ACLU in 2022 regarding her Millennium Park curfew for unaccompanied minors.

Possibly Running for Mayor of Chicago in 2023

FOP President John Catanzara

After he retired from his job as a Chicago police officer rather than allowing a police board to potentially fire him, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said that he would run for mayor, but has not officially filed to do so.

“I’m officially running for mayor. Lightfoot has got to go. It’s gotta happen,” he said in Nov. 2021.

VP of CTU Stacy Davis Gates

Davis Gates, currently the vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, is expected to run for president of that union with Jesse Sharkey departing the position, but could potentially mull a run for mayor as well, according to reports.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey

Sharkey, who has sparred with Lightfoot on a variety of fronts, will not seek reelection to his role as president of the teachers’ union, but hasn’t said whether he’ll challenge Lightfoot in the mayoral race.

“I’m going to be involved in the city’s politics, in general and the union in particular,” he said when asked in Feb. 2022.

Sources tell NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern that several other candidates are considering jumping into the race, including State Rep. LaShawn Ford, Ald. Sophia King and Ald. Brian Hopkins.

Not Running

Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

In early March, Arne Duncan announced that he would not run for mayor of Chicago, and would instead focus his efforts on working with his non-profit organization.

“The best way I can serve our city is to stay laser-focused on reducing gun violence and stay engaged at our sites, on the streets and in the lives of our participants,” he said.

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia

While he hasn’t officially ruled himself out yet, there aren’t any current indications that former mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia would run for the position.

“I am not thinking about that whatsoever, and I surely haven’t talked to my wife about it,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve got to think that she’d be very reluctant for us to do it, and we do everything together. It’s not on my radar right now.”

Garcia lost to former Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 election.

Rep. Mike Quigley

Quigley was the latest candidate to bow out of the race, saying that he is too focused on his work in Congress to consider jumping into the electoral fracas.

“After much consideration, I simply cannot walk away from my duty to safeguard democracy, fight for American values abroad, and stand up for the brave Ukrainian people in their time of maximum peril,” he said in a statement. “Campaigning to serve as mayor of Chicago would not allow me to fulfill this critical obligation.”

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