Crusader Staff Report
State Representative La Shawn K. Ford has entered the race for mayor, becoming the tenth Black candidate among 17 contenders seeking to succeed incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Ford told the Crusader on Saturday at the Chicago Football Classic at Soldier Field that he had been collecting signatures since Monday, September 17 to get his name on the ballot for the mayoral elections on February 26, 2019.
“The race for city of Chicago mayor is pretty much an opportunity for the city to elect a person who’s not connected to the political establishment, so that working families can be included in shaping public policy,” Ford told the Crusader.
Ford said he will make an official announcement in the “coming weeks.” Asked why so late, he said “There’s no rush. We don’t want to be part of the confusion of making people forget about the November elections.”
Last week, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle officially announced her candidacy for mayor, ending weeks of speculation since Emanuel announced his decision September 4 not to run for a third term as the trial proceedings began. His decision came one day before the start of the trial of Officer Van Dyke, who shot teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times.
Ford’s decision has made the race for the Black vote more intense for candidates. Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun Times reported last week that candidate and former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot may back Preckwinkle and become the city’s new corporation counsel should Preckwinkle become the new mayor. Preckwinkle needs the strong support of the Black electorate to come out on top of a diverse field that may command the Hispanic and Caucasian vote. Though a big-name candidate, Preckwinkle’s decision to enter the race has not fazed Ford.
Ford has been State Representative for the 8th District since 2007. According to his Facebook page, Ford was born to an unwed teenage mother living in the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago. Never knowing his father, and adopted by his grandmother at birth, La Shawn K. Ford started his life with few material advantages.
His family moved to the West Side of Chicago when he was two, moving into a two-flat family building at Leclaire and Chicago Avenue in the Austin community. Young Ford attended Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Elementary School and graduated from Weber High School before obtaining degrees from Loyola University and the University of Illinois in Chicago.
At one point after high school, Ford entered Niles College Seminary and contemplated becoming a priest but decided to attend Loyola University instead. At Loyola, Ford played on the basketball team and earned a Bachelor of Arts dgree in Elementary Education with a minor in Political Science.
For six years, Ford taught social studies to elementary school students and coached basketball in the Chicago Public Schools. He also worked as a precinct captain in the neighborhood where he grew up. As a licensed real estate broker, he pursued his goal of opening his own real estate business and is the founder and owner of Ford Desired Real Estate. The business has operated since 2001. He has a daughter, Tia.