Ra Joy Among Potential Chicago Mayoral Candidates With Ties to Kennedy

One week after his first-ever campaign for political office ended in defeat, Ra Joy — the man gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy chose as his running mate — is now weighing a run for Chicago mayor.

Joy has been a political organizer and the executive director for CHANGE Illinois, a non-partisan coalition aimed at government reform.

Prior to organizing, Joy was a senior aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat representing Illinois’ 9th Congressional District, specializing in appropriations as well as community and economic development.

Joy lost his son Xavier to gun violence last summer when the 23-year-old was killed in an attempted robbery. His son wanted to be involved in politics, which is part of the reason Joy said he sought political office.

Should Joy run for mayor, he will likely make Chicago’s gun violence a key issue in his campaign, as Kennedy – whose father Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot – did in his own platform.

Joy told NBC 5 that he’s currently taking time off after losing the Democratic primary, but the 44-year-old former candidate for lieutenant governor suggested that his most recent campaign may have been a preview to the upcoming Chicago mayoral election in early 2019.

Joy said he has not yet made a final decision on whether he will run, but he’s not the only Kennedy-affiliated candidate who may look to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Sources said community activist Amara Enyia, who ran for mayor in 2015 and has been a policy advisor to Joy, is also considering throwing her hat in the ring once again. Enyia did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Former Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere, who endorsed Kennedy in the Democratic primary, already announced his campaign for mayor, while another Kennedy supporter, attorney Lori Lightfoot has been quietly speaking with her advisors about a potential run. Lightfoot, who serves as the Chicago Police Board president and has led reform efforts within CPD, would not definitively say on WTTW earlier this week if she might enter the contest.

While plenty of people in Kennedy’s coalition seem to be weighing a mayoral run, what about the candidate himself? Some speculate he might claim residence at an address at his development at Wolf Point to challenge Emanuel – with whom he has publicly sparred over the city’s violence, among other issues.

However, a Kennedy campaign for mayor seems unlikely, as he voted in the Democratic primary election in north suburban Kenilworth. Kennedy did not immediately respond to request for comment on the speculation, but, with the mayoral election nearly a year away, it’s too early to rule anything – or anyone – out entirely.

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