A preview of the 2019 Chicago Mayoral Election

Izzy Lobin, Staff Writer

With a two-term incumbent Rahm Emanuel decidedly making his exit this coming spring, the Chicago mayoral election is in full swing, with a wide field of candidates to choose from.

This year’s race has 21 hopeful candidates awaiting ballot certification. In order to be listed on the ballot, a candidate must have supplied a petition of 12,500 registered Chicago voter signatures between November 19 and November 26.

The next step is the petition challenges. This period allows anyone to challenge a potential candidates signatures. The challenges were due December 1, and the investigations will conclude around Christmas. Once a candidate’s petition is verified, they’re entered onto the primary ballot.

With 21 players in the field, all looking to make their mark and gain momentum heading into the spring, it’s nearly impossible to tell who will emerge as a leader in the crowded race. That being said, here are six projected frontrunners heading into the new year.

Bill Daley
The son of Mayor Richard J. Daley, and brother of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Bill Daley’s entrance to the race came as a surprise, having previously stated he would not pursue public office again. Daley formerly worked as President Obama’s Chief of Staff and as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton. His centrist views, combined with the economic failures of his brother and historic redlining tactics of his father, could lead to fierce opposition from the progressive electorate.

Toni Preckwinkle
Having spent over 25 years in public office as both an alderman and Cook County Board President, Preckwinkle has made a long lasting career in Chicago politics. Over the years, she’s developed a progressive reputation, having worked heavily in housing and wage policy. Another candidate with Obama ties, Preckwinkle was an early supporter, helping Obama win almost all of his statewide campaigns.

Lori Lightfoot
Lightfoot has made a career out of reform. She’s worked as a senior equity partner at a law firm, overseeing diversity initiatives and reforms, and served on Mayor Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force after the Laquan McDonald shooting. Her career thus far has been built upon the rebuilding of Chicago as an equitable setting, both in the private sector and through public service. If elected, she’d be Chicago’s first openly gay mayor.

Susana Mendoza
After 10 years in the state house, and two subsequent terms as city clerk, Mendoza took her talents to the executive branch of Illinois government, recently winning the election for Comptroller in November. Only days later, she announced her bid as Chicago’s next mayor. As Mike Madigan’s protege, she carries a strong base of support not only from the LatinX community and women, but from traditional Chicago political types as well.

Garry McCarthy
Former chief of the Chicago Police Department, McCarthy was fired in 2015 by Mayor Emanuel for the mishandling of the Laquon McDonald shooting, among other things. His platform primarily focuses on making Chicago safe (a skill he claims to have learned from his years on the NYPD) as well as criticizing Emanuel’s administration. Finances are another focal point of his campaign.

Jeremiah Joyce
A close family friend of the Daley’s, Jeremiah Joyce’s father was an enforcer in Chicago politics for years. Joyce Jr. is himself a former assistant state’s attorney and now practices law on the Far South Side. Joyce’s platform begins and ends with better lives for Chicago’s families, from safe neighborhoods to well funded schools.

Along with those six, there are another 15 candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring for the upcoming election.
These include a number of current and former politicians. Current Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown and former alderman of the 2nd ward Robert Fioretti among them.

Others from political backgrounds include several failed candidates in other offices. Richard Mayers, a congressional candidate who is also running for city clerk and treasurer; John Kozlar, a two time 11th ward alderman candidate; Roger L. Washington, a police officer and educator who ran for alderman in the 24th ward; and Sandra Mallory, who ran for alderman in the 15th ward.

Several Chicago activists are also ballot hopefuls. Amarah Enyia, an activist and policy consultant, won the favor of Chance the Rapper over his childhood friend JaMal Green. A long time volunteer, 87-year-old Conrien Hykes Clark from Roseland, has also turned in a petition.
Two former education policymakers, lawyer and former chair for the Illinois State Board of Education Gery Chico and former chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas, have set up campaigns as well.

On Feb. 26, a primary vote will be held citywide. If no one candidate receives 51 percent or more of the vote, a runoff will be held between the two highest vote getters on April 2nd, 2019.