Crusader Staff Report
Several Black candidates in recent days have joined the crowded race for mayor hoping to unseat incumbent Rahm Emanuel by wrestling away his grip on a Black electorate that has kept him in office since he was first elected in 2011.
This past weekend, Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin and community activist Ja’Mal Green jumped into the race for mayor, joining two other candidates of color. Of the seven candidates vying for City Hall, five of them are Black. As the campaign race heats up, more Black candidates may join the race.
The election for Chicago’s mayor is Feb. 26, 2019, but the race is drawing much interest because of the vulnerability of Emanuel, whose popularity in the Black community has weakened because of his alleged role in suppressing a video that showed a police officer shooting 17-year- old Laquan McDonald 16 times.
With concerns of splitting the Black vote, the question remains whether any of the Black candidates have a big enough profile to take down Emanuel and become Chicago’s next mayor. The winner must grab at least 50 percent of the vote to win the race outright, or face a runoff against the candidate with the second highest number of votes.
There is also the question of whether the crowded race of Black candidates will actually help Emanuel win re-election to a third term.
Among the newcomers to the mayoral race is Brown, an attorney and CPA who announced her bid for mayor at the Chicago Hilton on April 22.
With Carl Carlton’s 1981 R&B hit, “She’s a Bad Mama Jama,” playing, hundreds of supporters applauded before Brown announced her intention to be the first Black woman to be mayor of Chicago. At times, the crowd burst into spontaneous chants of “Dorothy Brown for mayor,” as the current Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County pledged to create a world-class city for all Chicagoans.
Before Brown addressed the crowd, a number of supporters spoke on her behalf, representing the mosaic that is the Brown coalition: a young millennial single mom; an entrepreneur; and members of the Hispanic, East Indian and LGBT community.
“The city of Chicago spans over 228 square miles, with over 200 neighborhoods and 77 communities, and it is often said that Chicago is a world-class city,” said Brown. “Well, I say in order for Chicago to truly be a world-class city, we must have world-class blocks, world-class neighborhoods and world-class communities. Then and only then will Chicago be a world-class city for all Chicagoans.”
Brown spoke extensively about her leadership, exhibited during her five terms as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Asked about her losing bid for mayor to Richard M. Daley, she said, “I don’t think the citizens of Chicago knew the real Dorothy Brown…and I believe the citizens of Chicago know they made a mistake in 2007.”
She went on to say, “I pledge to not just think outside of the box to find new and sustainable revenue sources, but rather, we’ll create a new box, using technology and revenue generating sources that have been proven effective by cities both here and abroad. What’s more, we’ll do that without raising taxes on our citizens, thus, helping to fund pensions for the dedicated men and women that work for our city.”
On April 20, community activist Green announced his campaign to run for mayor. He filed paperwork with the Illinois State Board of Elections on April 6 to create his political committee, Green for Chicago. That same weekend, tech entrepreneur Sales-Griffin announced his campaign for mayor of Chicago.
In addition to Brown, Green and Griffin join a crowded field that includes businessman Willie Wilson and Troy LaRaviere, president of the Chicago Principals & Administrators Association. Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot is also considering running for mayor. The additional candidates are former Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.
With the biggest name among
the Black candidates, Brown has $9,093.98 in campaign donations, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Sales-Griffin has $9491.81. Overall, Emanuel is far ahead of the pack in campaign donations with $3,910,747.63, state records show.
Brown has been elected to her current post five times and is running for mayor amid a federal probe investigating allegations that she took a $15,000 bribe from a man who sought a job in her office. She has denied the allegation and has not been charged with anything.
Accustomed to rising above negative publicity, Brown still won big in 2016 when the Cook County Democrats refused to endorse her after negative reports about the sale of a building in Lawndale she owns with her husband. She grabbed 77 percent of the primary vote or 778,478 of 1,005,608 votes cast. She soundly won the general election by grabbing 56 percent of the vote.
Brown’s announcement marks the beginning of her campaign. She wants to outreach to all Chicagoans to share her goals for a Chicago that works for ‘all’ citizens.
“At the core of all this is my deeply held commitment to bring respect, pride, change, and hope for all Chicago,” she said. “My goal is to engage the many stakeholders that value our city and desire to work collaboratively in achieving change for all people.”