Race for mayor of Chicago: Who’s in and who’s out for the 2023 election | Chicago News

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Chicago’s 2023 mayoral race has attracted a wide and ever-growing array of challengers across the political spectrum.

While the playing field won’t be set until late November, one thing is certain: Chicago politics is not a bean bag.

Important appointments

August 30: The earliest date candidates begin circulating their nomination petitions. To make it to the polls, candidates need the signatures of at least 12,500 Chicago voters. (Savvy, well-funded contestants will hand over three times that amount to ensure they can withstand a challenge from their rivals.)

21 November: Candidates on the first date can file these signatures to qualify for the ballot. Those who line up with their paper petitions (yes, it’s still the 1990s when it comes to this part of the Chicago election) at 9 a.m. will be entered into a lottery to get first place on the ballot. (Does it matter? Maybe, officials say.)

November 28: The deadline by which candidates can submit their applications. Those who file at 5 p.m. will be entered into a lottery for the last slot on the ballot. (Does it matter? Maybe, officials say.)

January 30, 2023: Early voting is scheduled to begin. This is usually delayed by the myriad of challenges campaigns will file with election officials and judges in an effort to clear the field. Don’t hold your breath.

February 28: Election day. Win or go home – unless no candidate gets 50% plus one. In this case, the two best candidates go to the second round.

April 4: Election Day Part Two: Win or else, but for real this time.

May 15: A new term begins for the mayor of Chicago, whoever he is.


Here’s who’s running:

Aldus. Raymond Lopez (15th arrondissement)

Lopez, 44, who has represented Back of the Yards and parts of Englewood on the Chicago City Council since 2015, was the first candidate to enter the race. Lopez has been one of Lightfoot’s most frequent critics, lambasting his approach to public safety, the COVID-19 pandemic and protections for undocumented immigrants. A former Southwest Airlines skycap, Lopez would be Chicago’s first Latino mayor and its second gay mayor.

THE CONTEXT: Lopez is a close ally of the accused Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) and regularly used city council rules of procedure to block Lightfoot proposals. He and other conservative members of the Chicago City Council forced several special meetings designed to pressure Lightfoot on crime and his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Willie Wilson

Wilson, 73, hopes the proverbial third time is the charm. The businessman and philanthropist ran unsuccessfully against former mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015 before running again in 2019 and finishing in fourth place with 11% of the vote. Wilson endorsed Lightfoot, a decision he now says he regrets.

THE CONTEXT: Wilson won 13 of the city’s 18 wards where a majority of black voters live in 2019, making him a political force to be reckoned with. Wilson also used his wealth to shine a light on the skyrocketing cost of inflation by donating millions of dollars worth of gas and groceries – while depositing $5 million into his campaign account, making making him the highest-funded candidate in the race.


State Representative Kam Buckner (D-Chicago)

Buckner, 37, was the first candidate from the progressive wing of the Chicago Democratic Party to challenge Lightfoot. Appointed to the Illinois House in 2019 and elected to a full term in 2020, Buckner represents a lakeside district that stretches from the Gold Coast south to Greater Grand Crossing.

THE CONTEXT: Buckner was the first – but not the last – candidate to question Lightfoot’s combative approach in her first term. Buckner said his record at Springfield shows he can work across the aisle — and the political divide — to bring about real change.


Paul Vallas

Vallas, 69, hopes to improve his ranking in the 2019 mayoral race: ninth out of 14 candidates, winning just 5.4% of the vote. Vallas served as former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s budget director and chief of schools. After leading school districts in New Orleans and Philadelphia, Vallas lost the 2002 Democratic primary for governor to Rod Blagojevich, who was later convicted of corruption. In 2014, Vallas unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor.

THE CONTEXT: Like Wilson, Vallas endorsed Lightfoot in the 2019 second round – only to regret it later. An adviser to the Fraternal Order of Police, Vallas wrote numerous columns in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, denouncing Lightfoot’s handling of city finances, public schools, and public safety.


Aldus. Roderick Sawyer (6e Hall)

Sawyer, 59, is racing to follow in his father’s footsteps. Former Mayor Eugene Sawyer replaced former Mayor Harold Washington after his death in office in 1987, serving until 1989. Elected to represent the South Side’s 6th Ward in 2011, Sawyer is the chairman of the Health Committee and human relations of the municipal council.

THE CONTEXT: Sawyer kicked off his campaign by condemning what he called Lightfoot’s “high-handed” approach to office and said city officials must take an “everyone on deck” approach to the problems facing Chicago faces, including efforts to reduce crime, improve schools and boost business in neighborhoods.


Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot, 60, is running to become the first woman to be re-elected mayor of Chicago, hoping to add to her list of firsts, which includes becoming the city’s first gay mayor and first black woman to be elected mayor. Lightfoot won all 50 wards in 2019 and nearly 74% of the vote, after promising to end the status quo at City Hall.

THE CONTEXT: Lightfoot’s tenure has been marked by a series of crises – the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic collapse and a surge in violent crime. Lightfoot kicked off her second campaign for elected office by touting her willingness to fight the city’s power brokers in her efforts to address the inequalities that have long plagued Chicagoans, embracing fierce criticism of her approach which she says , is rooted in racism and sexism.


Ja’mal green

Green, 27, would be the youngest person to be elected mayor of Chicago if successful. Like Wilson and Vallas, Green ran for mayor in 2019 – but failed to vote. He also endorsed Lightfoot, like Vallas and Wilson, and also regretted that decision.

THE CONTEXT: After his failed mayoral race, Green pressured Chase Bank to redouble its efforts to invest in communities on the south and west sides of Chicago, where it invested just 13 cents for every dollar invested in the North Side and Downtown. Green also sparked a political storm by sending out a Tweet in April 2021 stating that “Lightfoot is stepping down tomorrow in a stunning end to his position as mayor”, turning rumors circulating on social media into a political storm.


Aldus. Sophia King (4th Ward)

King, 56, was first nominated to the Chicago City Council in 2016 by former mayor Rahm Emanuel and won elections in 2017 and 2019 – with the backing of former President Barack Obama. King pushed for Lake Shore Drive to be renamed for Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, a Haitian immigrant who was the Chicago area‘s first non-native settler, and for Congress Parkway to be renamed Ida B. Wells Drive to honor the icon of the civil rights and journalist. .

Background: King joined the race after Lightfoot remarked that all of his challengers were men – telling reporters that Sawyer’s entry into the race just marked ‘another day, another man who thinks he can do his job better than me”. King, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, announced her candidacy for mayor by promising to lead Chicago through collaboration — not confrontation, an implied criticism of the combative Lightfoot.


Also running: Chicago Police Officer Frederick Collins and Retired Air Force Captain and Publishing Director Dennis “DJ” Doran.

Consider running: US Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, former Governor Pat Quinn and former Chicago Buildings Commissioner Judy Frydland.

Not running: US Representative Mike Quigley, former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President of the Fraternal Order of Police John Catanzara and Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates.

Note: This page will be updated with new candidate announcements.


Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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