These Are the Candidates Running for Chicago Mayor

Though Election Day is months away, several candidates have already announced their intention to take on Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Here's a look at who's in the running to run Chicago.

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Though he has not yet formally announced his reelection campaign, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears poised to run for a third term. First elected in 2011, the former congressman and President Barack Obama's ex-White House chief of staff was forced to an historic runoff in his 2015 reelection campaign against Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. A central issue in that race was the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. McDonald was shot 16 times in Oct. 2014 by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is awaiting trial on six counts of first-degree murder. The fallout of the shooting, which in part sparked a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department, is likely to play a key role in this campaign as well. Although he's stayed quiet on his plans, Emanuel - a prolific fundraiser - has been steadily adding to his war chest, reporting more than $1.7 million in contributions to his political committee in April alone. And although Garcia won the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Luis Gutierrez in Illinois' 4th Congressional District, seemingly clearing the path for Emanuel, several challengers have emerged looking to take on the mayor.
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Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown announced her candidacy for mayor on April 22, despite an ongoing federal probe into allegations of bribery and corruption within her office. Earlier this year, prosecutors alleged that Brown took a $15,000 bribe from a man seeking a job with her office, disguised as a loan for the business she and her husband own, as well as another $10,000 loan from a separate employee of the clerk's office. The first man was sentenced to three years probation for perjury in February, the latest development in the years-long federal corruption investigation into Brown's office. Brown - whose home was raided by investigators in 2015 - has not been charged with a crime and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, claiming in announcing her candidacy that people "trust" her and vowing to work "to make every square mile of the city of Chicago world-class."
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Tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin entered the race on Apr. 22 with a speech lasting nearly an hour and a half, saying he wanted to address issues like population decline in Chicago but without delving into specific policy proposals. At 30, Sales-Griffin is young compared to most of the other candidates, and said he's running because Emanuel isn’t "doing a good enough job." Sales-Griffin runs a nonprofit coding school called CodeNow and is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University.
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Community activist Ja'Mal Green announced his candidacy for mayor on April 18. At 22, Green - a South Side native and prominent figure in Chicago's Black Lives Matter organization - is the youngest candidate in the race. Green served as a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign and parts of his platform include increasing investment in education, creating an elected school board and police reform - an issue he has been vocal about, taking part in a protest at the 2016 Taste of Chicago that ended in his arrest. Green pleaded guilty to resisting arrest but other charges in the case were dropped.
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Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas announced his campaign on March 28, tweeting, "I am in it to win." Vallas, 64, headed Chicago schools 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. In February, his youngest son Mark died at a substance abuse facility, and Vallas has yet to speak publicly since.
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Dr. Willie Wilson, who ran for mayor in 2015, announced his intention to run again on March 27. 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."
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Ex-Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired by Emanuel during the Laquan McDonald fallout, is another former member of the Emanuel administration looking to take on his old boss. After months of speculation, McCarthy officially announced his candidacy on March 21 in a video saying "thousands" of Chicagoans had approached him asking him to run to "fix the city's problems." The 58-year-old 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.
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Former Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere was the first to announce his intent to take on Emanuel, unveiling his campaign in January. LaRaviere is the president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, and has been an outspoken critic of Emanuel since his days as principal of Blaine Elementary School - a position he was removed from over allegations of insubordination. He supported Garcia for mayor in 2015, as well as Sanders for president in 2016, and with his background, education and creating an elected school board are key components of his progressive platform.
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