CHICAGO -- Two more well-known Chicago leaders are joining the crowded field in the race for mayor.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and attorney Gerry Chico entered the race for mayor on Thursday.
Preckwinkle read a prepared 15 minute speech that outlined a progressive vision for the city that brings more equality to education and the economy. Specifically, she called for an elected school board, and for the city to distribute resources to the neighborhoods.
“My hope is that today is more than a kickoff to campaign, but is the start of a movement,” Preckwinkle said.
A former high school history teacher, Preckwinkle served as the alderman of the 4th Ward for 19 years, and then spent nearly a decade on the Cook County Board.
“Chicago can’t be a world class city if we only focus on downtown. the next mayor must make the challenges of our communities a priority,” she said.
She spoke about the devastating personal toll of violence on Chicago’s South and West Sides.
“Shortly after becoming a teacher, I lost a student to gun violence,” she said. “It’s difficult to put into words, but it motivates me to this day.”
She said police reform will be a priority.
“I won’t apologize for that, nor stop calling out police violence. You can’t fix a problem you won’t acknowledge,” she said.
Chico is a Chicago attorney with decades of experience in city and state government.
“I’m running for mayor because I believe the best days of Chicago are ahead of it, but it won’t happen by itself,” he said.
Chico said he’s projecting a positive vision for Chicago’s future.
“I have a vision where we reduce crime, we make our school system even better, and we reinvest in our people and our facilities and infrastructure unlike we ever have before,” Chico said.
Chico has been called a “powerhouse” in the Hispanic community, and has vast cross-over appeal. He’s had success in every position he’s held – from the chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, the president of the Chicago School Board, as the head of the Chicago Park District and as the chairman of the community colleges.
“I think that experience with my vision for what the city can be – bringing opportunity to every part of this city is critical,” he said.
He said the next mayor’s top priority must be reducing violence.
“This has to be something we obsess about – obsess about,” he said.
He also said the city can use its big projects, like the O’Hare expansion, to tackle its big problems like poverty.
“You want to break down the tale of two cities? Start to draw together O’Hare and communities on the South and Southwest side and West Side, that’s what we need to do.”
Chico believes he will have solid fundraising capabilities, broad support and can run on his record.
Preckwinkle has something money can’t buy – as the head of the Cook County Democratic Party, she controls the vast network of ward and township committeemen vital in getting candidates elected. She has already picked up an endorsement from Valarie Jarrett--a close confidant of former President Barack Obama.