Chicago’s Race for Mayor: Who’s Running?

When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would not be seeking a third term, the list of candidates running for mayor grew rapidly.

Below, WGN has compiled information on every candidate who has officially declared their candidacy.  This list will continue to be updated until the mayoral election on Feb. 26, 2019.


Dorothy Brown
Cook County Circuit Court Clerk
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Dorothy Brown currently serves as the Cook County Circuit Court clerk, an office she was first elected to in 2000. Her campaign website says she is an attorney and a certified public accountant. She previously served as general auditor of the Chicago Transit Authority. Brown ran unsuccessful campaigns for mayor in 2007, and Cook County Board President in 2010. As circuit court clerk, Brown’s office has been the subject of a federal corruption investigation alleging a pay-to-play scheme. Brown has denied any wrongdoing and she has not been charged with any crimes.


Gery Chico
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff
Gery Chico served as Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff from 1992 until 1995. He was appointed as board president of Chicago Public Schools in 1995. Chico also served as president of the Chicago Park District. He previously ran for mayor in 2011.


Bill Daley
Former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Bill Daley is the son and brother of two former mayors of Chicago.  The 70-year-old lawyer and former banker also served as Secretary of Commerce under former President Bill Clinton, and as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff. In 2013, Daley entered the race for governor but dropped out after four months.


Amara Enyia
Policy Consultant

Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Amara Enyia is a public policy consultant and currently serves as the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Her campaign website said she began her career as a journalist. She is a regular contributor to WVON 1690.  Enyia briefly ran for mayor in 2015.


Ja’Mal Green
Activist
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Ja’Mal Green is a community organizer and activist in the Black Lives Matter movement. Green helped lead protests against violence and police misconduct following the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video. He is also the founder of Majostee All Stars, a non-profit organization aimed at mentoring youth in Chicago’s under-resourced neighborhoods.


John Kozlar
Attorney
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
John Kozlar is a Chicago attorney and graduate of the University of Chicago and John Marshall Law School. He ran for public office for the first time in 2011, mounting an unsuccessful bid for 11th Ward alderman at age 21. Kozlar ran for alderman in the 11th Ward again in 2015, a seat won by Patrick Daley-Thompson following a runoff election


Troy LaRaviere
Former Chicago Public Schools principal

Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Troy LaRaviere is the president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. He previously worked as a Chicago Public Schools teacher and principal at Blaine Elementary. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy. LaRaviere gained city-wide notoriety in 2014, after penning a blistering criticism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s education policies. He campaigned for Emanuel’s opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, in the 2015 race for mayor, and appeared in a 2016 television ad for then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.


Lori Lightfoot
Former Chicago Police Board President, Federal Prosecutor
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Lori Lightfoot served as head of the Chicago Police Board, a position Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to in 2015. She also led a city task force on police accountability, in the immediate fallout of the release of video showing the shooting of Laquan McDonald. Lightfoot served in various roles at City Hall under the Richard M. Daley administration, including chief of staff at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. She previously worked as Assistant United States Attorney, and most recently as a senior partner at the Mayer Brown law firm. If elected, Lightfoot would be the city’s first female African-American mayor. She’d also be Chicago’s first openly gay mayor.


Garry McCarthy
Former Chicago Police Department Superintendent
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
A native of New York City, Garry McCarthy served as superintendent of the Chicago Police Department from 2011 until 2015. He previously served as director of operations of the New York City Police Department, a position that he held during the Sept. 11 terror attacks. McCarthy also oversaw the police department of Newark, N.J., before coming to Chicago. In December of 2015, McCarthy was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel following the release of video showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.


Toni Preckwinkle
Cook County Board President
Toni Preckwinkle has spent nearly 30 years in various political offices in and around Chicago, first as Alderman of the 4th Ward and then president of the Cook County Board. She faced backlash from voters in 2017 after passing a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages. The tax was repealed in December of that same year. In 2018, Preckwinkle became the first woman, and the first African American, elected to chair the Cook County Democratic Party. Before entering politics, Preckwinkle was a teacher in Chicago high schools.


Matthew Roney
Pharmaceutical Tech/DePaul Student
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Matthew Roney is a student at DePaul University. Roney says he founded a new political group called “The Garden Party,” aimed at helping Chicago grow. He is also a certified pharmaceutical technician.


Neal Sales Griffin
Entrepreneur
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Neal Sales Griffin is an entrepreneur who currently works as the CEO of CodeNow, a non-profit that teaches high school kids computer coding skills. He previously helped found The Starter League, a bootcamp program designed to teach coding. Sales-Griffin teaches courses at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Northwestern University.


Paul Vallas
Former CEO, Chicago Public Schools, City Budget Director
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Paul Vallas served as the city’s revenue director and budget director under Mayor Richard M. Daley. He was eventually appointed as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, from 1995 until 2001. He has overseen schools in Philadelphia, Louisiana and Connecticut, as well as worked in Haiti developing plans for a school system there following the earthquake of 2010. Vallas ran unsuccessfully for Illinois governor in 2002. In 2014, he was chosen to be Governor Pat Quinn’s running mate, though the pair lost to Republicans Bruce Rauner and Evelyn Sanguinetti.


Willie Wilson
Businessman
Campaign Website | Twitter | Facebook
Willie Wilson is a millionaire businessman and philanthropist. He’s the current owner of Omar Medical Supplies and former owner of several McDonald’s franchises. Wilson has recorded several gospel albums and produces “Singsation!”, a half-hour television program featuring that music. Wilson ran for mayor in 2015, garnering support from nearly 11 percent of Chicago voters. He also ran for president in 2016. He’s garnered both praise and criticism for his long-standing practice of handing out checks, and sometimes cash, to help Cook County residents struggling with their property tax bills.