CHICAGO — Chicago Businessman Willie Wilson officially announced Monday he is running for Mayor of Chicago. This is his third run for mayor of Chicago.

“I am running – made the decision to run for the mayor of the city of Chicago,” Wilson said at his downtown high rise.

Flexing his financial muscles, Wilson announced he’s writing his campaign a check for $5 million. He also pledged that if he wins, he’ll donate his mayoral salary, saying he doesn’t need the money. 

“I’m not running for mayor to get a paycheck,” Wilson said.

Wilson failed to make the run-offs in 2015 and 2019. Last election, he won 13 of the city’s 50 wards, mostly on the south and northwest sides.

Wilson has insisted his two gas giveaways, which caused massive traffic backups last month, were not attempts to buy votes. He was criticized for handing out cash on the streets during his prior election runs.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has yet to announce her reelection bid, but it’s expected she’ll seek a second term and will likely campaign on a record of guiding the city through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Making a pitch to broaden his appeal, Wilson threw an elbow at Mayor Lightfoot. 

“I wish her the best, whatever she got to do, but she got to leave City Hall,” Wilson said.

Wilson describes himself as a Democrat but also a conservative. In the past, he’s supported former President Donald Trump. Asked if he believes Joe Biden was fairly elected president, Wilson was less than clear. 

“If the vote comes out – our system is set up and it comes out to say this person won then those are the results I go with unless I find out something differently,” Wilson said. 

Southwest Side 15th Ward Ald. Ray Lopez kicked off his run last week. One of the mayor’s biggest critics, Lopez cited public safety as his number one priority.

Congressman Mike Quigley is also considering a run.

Police union president John Catanzara, facing dismissal from CPD, suddenly announced his retirement last fall and plans to challenge Lightfoot. The two have clashed repeatedly over issues including the city’s vaccine mandate. 

The first to declare his candidacy was Frederick Collins, a 30 year police department veteran. Collins, who launched his bid in January, is running on the theme “safe neighborhoods matter.”

The mayoral primary is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2023.