Who’s running for Chicago Mayor – and why?

(Photo / Daniel Huizinga) https://flic.kr/p/pHKhkn

By: Noah Broder
Medill Reports

As the February 26 election moves closer and early voting begins, 14 mayoral candidates are working to win the critical  50 percent of the vote.

If no candidate receives over half of the vote, there will be a runoff election on April 2 between the top two candidates who receive the most votes.

 The race for Chicago mayor began in earnest in September when current mayor Rahm Emmanuel declared that he would not be seeking re-election.

“As much as I love this job and I will always love this city and its residents, I have decided not to seek re-election,” Emmanuel said in his September press conference.

Following Emmanuel’s announcement, the candidate field grew to close to 20 in advance of this month’s citywide election. Due to certain signature requirements and other reasons, the field currently sits at 14 individuals.

Here are the 14 candidates who are still in the race for Chicago mayor, listed in alphabetical order. Information from candidate website and campaign teams. The list will be updated as necessary.  Links take you to websites or forum videos where comments were made.


Gery Chico

Bio: Chico was Chicago Public Schools Board President in the 1990s and worked as Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff.

Website: https://chicoformayor.com/

Why are you running? “I’m fighting to be the mayor of this city so I can protect (working families and citizen) and maintain their quality of life. We are not an ATM machine for lazy governing.”


Bill Daley


Bio: Daley served as chief-of-staff for President Barack Obama and was the U.S. Commerce Secretary during the Clinton Administration. He is the brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Website: https://www.daleyformayor.com/

Why are you running? “(Chicago) cannot continue on the track it is going without major change. … I have not been a career politician or a career bureaucrat … and we need to make some basic changes in this city for the next four years or else we’re going to have a problem,.”


Amara Enyia

Bio: Enyia is a former journalist who has a Ph.D. in education policy. She works as a consultant for education and community organizations and authored a book on city finances.

Website: https://amaraenyia.com/meet-amara/

Why are you running? “I am running for mayor of Chicago because we are at a critical point in the city’s history where it requires a different kind of leadership, with the kinds of ideas and energy it takes to move us into the future.”


Bob Fioretti 

Bio: Fioretti is a civil rights lawyer and former alderman who ran for mayor back in 2015. As a lawyer, Fioretti has worked as a Special Assistant Attorney General of Illinois and a Special Assistant State’s Attorney.

Website: https://www.bobforchicago.com/

Why are you running? “I’m running for mayor for the same reasons I ran for alderman, to affect change. I was the only one who stood up against … Rahm (Emmanuel), the city council and organized the progressive caucus.”


La Shawn Ford


Bio: Ford is a former Chicago Public Schools teacher and founded his own real estate business. He is a state licensed insurance agent and is still licensed as a teacher.

Website: http://www.fordforchicago.com/

Why are you running? “As your mayor, I pledge to you that we will have a healthier, safer and brighter future in the city of Chicago.”


Jerry Joyce

Bio: Joyce is a small business owner and attorney who works in private legal practice. Joyce worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney on the executive staff for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Website: https://jerryjoyce2019.com/meet-jerry/

Why are you running? “It’s been building for the past few years, but the public safety issue was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. … I made a decision, encouraged by several neighbors and friends throughout the city, to do something about that ”


John Kozlar

Bio: Kozlar is an attorney who currently works for Aon in Chicago. In 2011 and 2015 Kozlar ran for 11th-ward alderman and forced a runoff both times.

Website: http://www.johnkozlar.com/

Why are you running?The biggest part for me in running is because we tend to elect the same people over and over in Chicago and nothing ever changes.


Lori Lightfoot

Bio: Lightfoot is a former president of the Chicago Police Board and a former assistant U. S. attorney. Lightfoot also worked as Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.

Website: https://lightfootforchicago.com/

Why are you running? “This election is one of the most important in our lifetime. We have an opportunity to speak our values, to break from the past. … I believe that it is important that we have leadership who is ethical, independent and who is going to speak for people who deserve to be heard.”


Garry McCarthy

Bio: McCarthy is the former Superintendent of Police for the city of Chicago. McCarthy formerly worked as a deputy police commissioner in New York.

Website: http://garryformayor.com/

Why are you running?“I am running for mayor because I can no longer stand by and watch what’s happening in this city when there are solutions that have not been tried. We’ve got to stop the politics as usual here.


 Susana Mendoza

Bio: Mendoza is currently the state’s comptroller after winning re-election in November.  She is also a former Chicago City Clerk and state representative.

Website: https://susanamendoza.com/

Why are you running? “I’m running for mayor because the future of Chicago is at stake and I’m interested in focusing on, not just the next four years, but the next generation.


Toni Preckwinkle 

Bio: Preckwinkle is a former Chicago Alderman and teacher who is currently Cook County Board President.

Website: https://toniforchicago.com/

Why are you running? “I think it’s clear that I’m the most progressive candidate in this race … both in the city council and in my present position as county board president, I have a very progressive reputation and very progressive credentials.”


Neal Sales-Griffin


Bio: Sales-Griffin is a CEO of a tech education company and serves as an adjunct professor in Northwestern’s business and engineering school.

Website: https://www.nealsalesgriffin.com/#who

Why are you running? “I’m running because when my friends and family members started moving away, I realized that Chicagoans are at a breaking point.  We’re tired of the corruption, the waste and the lack of trust in our public servants.”


 Paul Vallas

Bio: Vallas is the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and has served as superintendent for other school districts around the country.

Website: https://vallasforallchicago.com/

Why are you running? “The essence of my campaign is to develop a strategy that can effectively address the city’s serious financial crisis which is impacting every aspect of our lives. ”


Willie Wilson

Bio: Wilson ran for mayor in 2015 and is a businessman who has owned a television production company and a McDonald’s.

Website: https://www.williewilsonformayor.com/

Why are you running? “I’m running for mayor to make a difference and bring us all together. ”