CHICAGO — She was just elected to a four-year term as Illinois state comptroller, but Susana Mendoza wants another job instead: mayor of Chicago.
In a video released Wednesday morning, the worst-kept secret in Chicago was revealed as Mendoza officially announced her bid for mayor.
“This election is about the future of Chicago and I believe in that future,” Mendoza says in the video.
Mendoza is formidable candidate with deep political ties and access to mega-donors. In fact, various people connected to Mayor Rahm Emanuel have signed up for Team Mendoza. Reflecting on the Emanuel years, Mendoza says it’s important to acknowledge, “Mayor Emanuel inherited a mess.”
“I mean Mayor Daley was a really great mayor, especially for the downtown area. He did a lot of things for the downtown, but over the last four years of his career he was more of a caretaker mayor,” Mendoza said. “We don’t need another caretaker mayor. I think that aspect is what caused Mayor Emanuel to have to make some really tough choices.”
Mendoza is focusing on education during her initial push for the position.
“I’m going to impose a two-year moratorium as mayor on any school closures, and I look forward to working with an elected School Board,” Mendoza said.
As a state lawmaker, Mendoza took a tough-on-crime approach supporting such measures as allowing law enforcement to collect DNA evidence of people charged with a crime. She says her feelings are informed by experiencing gun violence in her neighborhood as a 7-year-old kid.
“I had to leave Little Village, or at least my parents felt that the only choice to protect us was to leave a neighborhood that we actually loved. And that still happens today,” Mendoza said. “Too many families feel that their only choice is to leave their neighborhood. I want to build a Chicago that invests in neighborhoods.”
Mendoza’s public safety agenda includes training and resources for police, but also tackling the underlying problems in neighborhoods plagued by violence.
“We need to invest in human capital. That means after school programs. It means mentoring programs,” Mendoza said.
Not everybody’s on board. Alderman Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward) still rememberers Mendoza’s closeness to the Daley-friendly Hispanic Democratic Organization.
“The new and improved Suzi is not the real Suzi. ‘Cause this is a marathon,” Munoz said.
Candidate Garry McCarthy also blasted Mendoza for winning reelection as comptroller, and then announcing for mayor a week later.
“Another Illinois politician has turned her back on her constituents,” McCarthy said.
Candidates need to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot by the Monday after Thanksgiving. Mendoza is the 17th candidate to launch a mayoral campaign, but it’s still unclear who will make it on the ballot.