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Phoenix 101: A Look at Chicago’s Mayoral Race

Photo courtesy of Daniel SchwenOver a dozen candidates have already reported plans to campaign for Emanuel’s seat.

Phoenix 101: A Look at Chicago’s Mayoral Race

Following Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision not to run for re-election in 2019, over a dozen candidates have already reported plans to campaign for Emanuel’s seat ahead of the Feb. 26 election.

Why isn’t Rahm Emanuel running for re-election?

Chicago’s mayor for more than seven years, Emanuel’s tenure was marked by a sharp spike in gun violence on the city’s south and west sides, as well as a series of scandals. Most notably, the release of a video showing a white Chicago police officer shooting 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald 16 times sparked a case which culminated in the officer’s conviction for second-degree murder, along with a slew of other charges, on Oct. 5.

After the video’s release, Emanuel’s approval rating plunged to “the low 20s,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported. While Emanuel’s polls later recovered somewhat, the mayor remained deeply unpopular for most of his tenure.

Emanuel never explicitly gave his unpopularity as the reason he’s not seeking a third term — he said he wants to spend more time with his wife now that their children have moved out on their own — but the release of the McDonald video, as well as the city’s more than 400-day refusal to share it, was seriously damaging to Emanuel’s administration.

Why isn’t Rahm Emanuel running for re-election?

Chicago’s mayor for more than seven years, Emanuel’s tenure was marked by a sharp spike in gun violence on the city’s South and West Sides, as well as a series of scandals. Most notably, the release of a video showing a white Chicago police officer shooting 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald 16 times sparked a case which culminated in the officer’s conviction for second-degree murder, along with a slew of other charges, Oct. 5.

After the video’s release, Emanuel’s approval rating plunged to “the low 20s,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported. While Emanuel’s polls later recovered somewhat, the mayor remained deeply unpopular for most of his tenure.

Emanuel never explicitly gave his unpopularity as the reason he’s not seeking a third term — he said he wants to spend more time with his wife now that their children have moved out on their own — but the release of the McDonald video, as well as the city’s more than 400-day refusal to share it, was seriously damaging to Emanuel’s administration.

Who are the candidates?

Candidates can be added to the ballot until Nov. 26, so the city could see some changes before February. Candidates in the crowded field come from all different backgrounds — some are professional politicians, while others are relative newcomers.

Bill Daley

Bill Daley, son of influential former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley and brother of Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley, brings a wealth of experience, as well as a sterling political pedigree, to the race. He was White House chief of staff under former President Barack Obama, and previously worked as U.S. commerce secretary under former President Bill Clinton.

A Loyola alum, Daley says he wants to strengthen Chicago neighborhoods by helping entrepreneurs start small businesses, according to his campaign website. He’s said he supports oversight of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) by a federal judge — an unusual move known as a “consent decree” finalized in September which many Chicagoans had called for since the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video — but said change to the often fraught police department won’t come easy.

“They didn’t get into losing the trust of the people of Chicago over a short period, so it will take a while,” Daley told the Chicago Tribune in September.

Daley’s campaign has more than $600,000 on hand as of their most recent financial disclosure, filed Oct. 15 — $500,000 of which Daley contributed personally.

Garry McCarthy

Garry McCarthy is the former Chicago Police superintendent. He was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015 after video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald was released.

Prior to assuming his role as Chicago’s top cop in 2011, McCarthy ran the Newark, New Jersey police department. Before that, he worked as deputy commissioner of operations for the New York City police department, and was at ground zero during the September 11, 2001 attacks, he said in an interview from 2011.

He wants to reinvest in neighborhood schools and implement a more rigorous training regimen for Chicago Police, his website states.

Unlike many of the other mayoral candidates, McCarthy has said he doesn’t think a consent decree with CPD is the right way to solve police misconduct.

“The political landscape that has been created needs to be corrected, which is ‘We’re going to be tough on cops, because it’s politically expedient,’” McCarthy told the Chicago Tribune in March.

McCarthy’s mayoral campaign has more than $267,000 available as of its most recent financial disclosure.

Toni Preckwinkle

Toni Preckwinkle is the Cook County board president and Cook County Democratic chairperson. She was elected to City Council in 1991 as an alderman from Chicago’s fourth ward, her first successful campaign after two failed attempts. She remained an alderman for 19 years, and was elected chairperson in April 2018. She was elected president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 2010, and has held the position since.

A veteran of Chicago politics, Preckwinkle championed the controversial sweetened beverage tax in 2017 and is an outspoken supporter of police reform. She plans to achieve a $15 minimum wage and lift the ban on rent control, according to her website.

As of her most recent financial disclosure, Preckwinkle’s mayoral campaign committee has just under $250,000 on hand.

Gery Chico

Gery Chico ran against Emanuel in 2011. He is Richard M. Daley’s former chief of staff, and former board president of Chicago Public Schools. He worked as Board President of the Chicago Park District from 2007 to 2010, and also briefly worked as president of City Colleges of Chicago.  

A graduate of Loyola’s law school, Chico told The Chicago Tribune solving violence would be his top priority as mayor, but didn’t share any specific plans.

Chico’s campaign has about $225,000 on hand as of its most recent financial disclosure.

Dorothy Brown

Dorothy Brown is the Cook County circuit court clerk, which means she’s responsible for keeping records of the courts and securing private documents such as search warrants or adoption papers. She ran unsuccessfully for treasurer of Chicago in 1999, for mayor in 2007 and for president of the Cook County Board of commissioners in 2010.

She released an eight point economic plan which includes instituting eight community development planning districts to guide economic planning and strengthening small business development programs, according to her website.

Brown’s mayoral campaign has just over $60,000 available as of Oct. 20.

Paul Vallas

Paul Vallas, a longtime school administrator and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, plans to turn the budget into a long term financial plan by investing in areas that will create conditions for growth, according to his website. He’s got experience with Chicago’s budget — he worked as budget director for the city under Richard M. Daley — and directed the Illinois Economic and Fiscal Commission.

Vallas’s campaign committee has $312,000 available as of Oct. 15.

Lori Lightfoot

Former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot brings extensive experience in Chicago government. Prior to heading the police board, which oversees police discipline, Lightfoot was the chief administrator of the CPD’s Office of Professional Standards.

Lightfoot plans to invest in communities by listening to community leaders, investing in schools and revitalizing commercial districts, her website states. She said she supports the CPD consent decree, but added that it has “some clear issues.”

Lightfoot’s campaign has a nearly $400,000 war chest as of its most recent disclosure.

Amara Enyia

Amara Enyia, a public policy consultant, works with groups to design education plans. She hosts town halls and workshops across the city to help residents understand how their tax dollars are being used so they can advocate for themselves. Previously, she worked in the policy department of the mayor’s offices under Richard M. Daley. She plans to create a Chicago public bank — a bank run by the government — to generate revenue and eliminate fees currently paid to private bank, according to her website.  

Ja’Mal Green

Ja’Mal Green founded the nonprofit Majostee Allstars, a nonprofit dedicated to guiding neglected youth, according to the organization’s website. He is also a prominent voice of the Black Lives Matter movement and a frequent panelist on CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, ABC, CBS, and BBC, according to Majostee Allstars’ website. Green plans to rebuild neighborhood schools, spur economic growth and develop small businesses, according to his website.

John Kozlar

A lawyer and a former city council candidate in 2015, John Kozlar plans to reduce class sizes so students have the resources they need, invest equally in all neighborhoods and vote no on a property tax increase, according to his website.

Troy LaRaviere

Troy LaRaviere is a former principal at Blaine Elementary School in Lakeview. He wants to rid politics of corporate money and make housing more affordable. He plans to replace red light cameras and regressive taxes with taxing the rich. He also wants to address the root causes of crime such as employment, mental health support and housing segregation, according to his website.

Matthew Roney

Matthew Roney, a pharmaceutical technician and a 20-year-old DePaul University student studying political science, plans to prioritize stakeholders to attract high paying jobs to the city, according to his website.

Neal Sales-Griffin

Neal Sales-Griffin is a tech entrepreneur, a teacher at Dyett High School on the south side and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Pritzker School of Law. He has no experience in politics and his website has no specific policy plans, but states his goal is to help others achieve what he has been able to.  

Willie Wilson

Willie Wilson, a businessman and previous mayoral candidate in 2015, created a 10 point plan that includes creating safe neighborhoods, ending political corruption and supporting sanctuary cities — cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, according to his website.

How are mayoral elections different from other elections?

In Chicago, mayoral elections are nonpartisan, which means candidates run without an affiliation to a political party, according to ballotpedia

Candidates must receive over 50 percent of the vote in order to win. If no candidate wins over 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election — an election between the top two candidates — will be held on April 2, 2019, according to ballotpedia.

How do I vote?

Voters registered in Chicago are eligible to vote in the mayoral election. If students are registered to vote in other cities, they will not be able to vote in the mayoral election. Students can check if they are registered to vote in Illinois online at ova.elections.il.gov/registrationlookup.

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