By Chicago News Staff
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, also known as “Chicago’s fixer”, announced that he would not run for office in 2019. The news came as a shock to some, and as a relief to others. In our brief overview of the events we as a city faced so far during the Emanuel Era (mychinews.com/politics/end-of-emanuel-era), one thing is clear: Rahm Emanuel will have its mark on Chicago’s history. And with the latest announcement of potentially making Chicago the first major U.S. city to implement Universal Basic Income (mychinews.com/news/ubi), he is sure not to finish the term quietly, leaving the legacy to remember.
In the meantime, his announcement not to run only fueled up the race. As of September 20th, there are 14 candidates who officially announced they’re running for Mayor. Let’s take a sneak peek at who’s in.
The newest officially confirmed candidate, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced her bid to replace Rahm Emanuel on Thursday afternoon in the Kenwood neighborhood.
Preckwinkle, 71, would enter the race as one of the state’s top African-American politicians.
Another freshly announced candidate, Chico, officially listed his candidacy early Thursday morning. Chicago native, Gery Chico is not a newbie in City Hall. From 1992 until 1995 he has served as Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff, becoming board president of Chicago Public Schools in 1995.
Chico has also served as president of the Chicago Park District. Running for Mayor in 2019 will be his second take in running for office after an unsuccessful attempt in 2011.
The youngest son of former Mayor Richard J. Daley and brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, has also run for office before.
“I watched my brother for 22 years and my dad for 21 years deal with issues in a tough way,” Bill Daley said in an interview. “But, seven years in, I don’t think my dad was blaming Mayor [Martin] Kennelly. And Rich, seven years in, wasn’t blaming Gene Sawyer and Harold Washington.”
Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, 64, announced her candidacy for mayor in April, despite an ongoing federal probe into allegations of bribery and corruption within her office. Brown’s house was raided by investigators in 2015, however, she has not been charged with a crime and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. According to Brown, she will work “to make every square mile of the city of Chicago world-class.”
Attorney and community activist Amara Enyia ran for office 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, 35, 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.
A 22-year-old South Side native and community activist, Ja’Mal Green is a prominent figure in Chicago’s Black Lives Matter organization. Green served as a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Green’s platform includes 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, where he was arrested. Green pleaded guilty to resisting arrest but other charges in the case were dropped.
The 30-year-old South Side native ran for 11th Ward alderman at age 21, then mounted another unsuccessful bid for the same position in 2015. According to Kozlar, Emanuel put $50,000 into that race against what he called an effort to defeat “machine politicians and elitists.”
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. Education and creating an elected school board are key components of his platform.
Former Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot is one of the candidates looking to take on their former boss. Emanuel appointed Lightfoot, 55, 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.
A 20-year-old political science student at DePaul University, Roney is the youngest candidate in the field. According to his website, he decided to enter politics after working as a pharmaceutical technician and seeing customers unable to afford their medications. Roney says he is running for mayor under a new party he founded, called “The Garden Party”, whose goal is to “help Chicagoans grow.”
Tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin entered the race in April with a speech lasting nearly an hour and a half, addressing population decline in Chicago, among other issues. Sales-Griffin, 30, runs a nonprofit coding school and is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He decided to run for office because Emanuel isn’t “doing a good enough job.”
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, 64, led the district from 1995 to 2001 and has served as superintendent for multiple other school districts around the country. 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.
Former Chicago top cop, fired by Mayor Emanuel amidst protests following release of the police video that captured fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, McCarthy was one of the first to officially announce his candidacy in the race to become a Chicago Mayor on March 21, 2018.
July 2018 polling indicated that Garry McCarthy was the leading challenger to Emanuel, however, there’s also a lot of controversy that surrounds former top cop.
Once being the City of Chicago’s highest paid public employee with an annual salary of $260,000, he was hired by Emanuel shortly after his election in 2011. McCarthy’s main goal was to reduce violence, which was accomplished, according to the official statistics. However, the numbers did raise some questions. For instance, in an investigative article by Chicago Magazine reporters David Bernstein and Noah Isackson, it was asserted that the decline was in part due to the unjustified re-categorization of murders as undetermined and then if it is later determined to be a murder, tallying the total to the prior years’ statistics.
Dr. Willie Wilson
Dr. Willie Wilson previously ran for mayor in 2015, and also for president in 2016. Wilson, a millionaire businessman who owned and operated several McDonald’s franchises, 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 mayor it has ever had.”
Recently, 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.