Here’s Who’s Running for Mayor of Chicago

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Gery Chico is running for Chicago mayor once again. Chico is an attorney who was former Mayor Richard M. Daley's chief of staff as well as board president of Chicago Public Schools before unsuccessfully running for U.S. Senate in 2004. He later served as president of the Chicago Park District and chairman of the City Colleges of Chicago board, then ran for mayor in 2011. Chico came in second of six candidates, earning 24 percent of the vote, behind Emanuel's 55 percent. In a statement announcing his run this time around, Chicago said he will focus on "violence, education, jobs and economic development."
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Having already taken over for him as White House chief of staff under President Barack Obama, Bill Daley is looking to replace Emanuel once again - this time as Chicago mayor. The former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton is also following in the footsteps of his father Richard J. Daley, who served as mayor for 21 years, and his brother Richard M. Daley, who became the longest-serving Chicago mayor before declining to run for a seventh term in 2011. A familiar name in Chicago politics, Bill Daley briefly entered the race for Illinois governor in 2013 before taking himself out of the running, and most recently worked in finance - enabling him to quickly build a multimillion-dollar war chest, the largest of all the candidates in the race.
Attorney and community activist Amara Enyia is throwing her hat in the ring for the second time as well. Enyia ran for mayor in 2015 before exiting the race to back then-Ald. Bob Fioretti’s unsuccessful bid. With a doctorate in education policy, she has worked as a public policy advisor in various capacities, recently for lieutenant governor candidate Ra Joy, who fell short in the Democratic primary alongside Chris Kennedy. Enyia lives in Garfield Park and is the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. She founded a social lab to educate on economic development, according to her website, and co-authored a book on municipal funding in Chicago. Perhaps her most notable campaign moment thus far came when she nabbed the endorsement of Chicago's own Chance the Rapper.
Bob Fioretti is another candidate who's no stranger to running for public office. The former Chicago alderman represented the city's 2nd Ward from 2007 to 2015, when the redistricted map pushed him outside the ward's boundaries. He then decided instead to run for Chicago mayor instead, but eventually dropped out and endorsed Emanuel's re-election bid ahead of the runoff vote against Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. Later that year, Fioretti launched an unsuccessful campaign for state Senate in the 5th District. Most recently, Fioretti made an unsuccessful bid for Cook County Board President against incumbent Toni Preckwinkle in 2018.
La Shawn Ford
State Rep. La Shawn Ford is officially in the race after hinting at a mayoral campaign on several occasions, often saying that a coalition of African-American leaders have encouraged him to run. Ford is a Democratic state lawmaker who has represented portions of the city's West Side since 2007. He is a licensed real estate broker and insurance agent, according to his biography on the General Assembly's website. He ran unopposed for re-election to the 8th House District, winning a sixth term in the post he hopes to abandon should his run for mayor be successful.
Jerry Joyce Jr. is the son of former 19th Ward Alderman and state Sen. Jeremiah Joyce, a political operative who worked closely with former Mayor Richard M. Daley. Joyce is an attorney and lobbyist from the city's Far South Side and previously served as a Cook County assistant state's attorney. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Joyce's father is part owner of a company that ran concessions at O'Hare Airport for years until Emanuel took office, awarding the lucrative contract to another company - though the paper noted that Joyce had reportedly told associates that dispute did not influence his decision to enter the race, which he did before Emanuel announced he would not run for re-election.
Attorney John Kozlar is a South Side native who's part of Aon plc’s risk solutions team and first ran for office in 2011, according to his website. He unsuccessfully ran for 11th Ward alderman at age 21, then mounted another bid for the same position in 2015, forcing a run-off against Patrick Daley Thompson, who ultimately won. Kozlar said Emanuel put $50,000 into that race against what he called an effort to defeat “machine politicians and elitists.”
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Former Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot is another candidate who entered the race before Emanuel bowed out, originally looking to take on her former boss. Emanuel appointed Lightfoot chair of the Police Accountability Task Force in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting, and she has used that experience - as well as her time leading the Police Board - to tout her credentials on law enforcement reforms. A former federal prosecutor, Lightfoot was most recently a partner at Mayer Brown LLP.
Ex-Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired by Emanuel during the Laquan McDonald fallout, is another former member of the mayor's administration now running for the top job. After months of speculation, McCarthy officially announced his candidacy in March with a video saying "thousands" of Chicagoans had approached him asking him to run to "fix the city's problems." The Bronx native and self-described “conservative Democrat” worked as Chicago’s top cop for four years before being dismissed in 2015 in the aftermath of the McDonald shooting.
Susana Mendoza officially announced her campaign eight days after she was re-elected to a second term as Illinois Comptroller, after insisting for weeks that she was focused on the midterms - even after a portion of her announcement video was leaked. She had long been rumored to be considering a run for mayor, with supporters circulating petitions and speculation increasing after other prominent Hispanic politicians chose not to join the race. Mendoza previously served as an Illinois state representative from 2000 to 2011, then as Chicago city clerk through 2016 when she was elected comptroller.
Toni Preckwinkle is the current Cook County Board President, a position she has held since 2010. Before that, she was elected to five terms as alderman of the 4th Ward on the city's South Side. In April, she became chair of the Cook County Democratic Party after Assessor Joe Berrios lost his primary election. Preckwinkle enjoys significant support from organized labor, particularly Service Employees International Union Local 1 and the Chicago Teachers Union. She championed the ill-fated soda tax, which was repealed amid public outcry just months after it went into effect in August 2017. If Preckwinkle were to win, she would become the first mayor to also chair the Cook County Democratic Party since Richard J. Daley.
Tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin entered the race in April 2018, saying he wanted to address issues like population decline in Chicago but without delving into specific policy proposals. Sales-Griffin, 30, runs a nonprofit coding school called CodeNow and is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, saying he's running because Emanuel isn’t "doing a good enough job."
City of Bridgeport
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas led the district from 1995 to 2001 and has served as superintendent for multiple other school districts in New Orleans; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Philadelphia. He also ran for Illinois governor in 2002, losing in the Democratic primary to now-disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Vallas later ran for lieutenant governor with Pat Quinn and lost in 2014.
Dr. Willie Wilson, who ran for mayor in 2015, is running again. Wilson, a millionaire businessman who owned and operated several McDonald's franchises, also ran for president in 2016. Shortly after announcing his candidacy, Wilson donated $100,000 to his own committee - lifting the self-funding limit to allow candidates to contribute any amount to their own committees throughout the election. Wilson, 69, said his contribution is a "clear indicator of his determination to rid Chicago of the worse [sic] mayor it has ever had." In 2018, Wilson came under fire for giving away cash from his charitable foundation at church and community events to help Cook County residents with property taxes. Opponents said the stunt was designed to buy votes, though the Illinois State Board of Elections ruled that it did not violate any campaign finance laws.
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