By Erick Johnson
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is running for Chicago Mayor, the Crusader has learned through close sources.
Sources tell the Crusader that Preckwinkle is close to putting together a team of people who have the clout and political savvy to cut through the crowded field of mayoral candidates.
Earlier this week, Preckwinkle said that she would announce “shortly” whether she would run for mayor, more than one week after incumbent Rahm Emanuel said that he will not seek a third term.
On Friday, September 14, Bill Daley, the brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, announced his campaign for mayor, becoming the biggest name yet in a crowded field of at least 13 candidates. Preckwinkle’s profile is perhaps even bigger. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton sat next to Preckwinkle, telling her that Chicago was hers as distrust deepened in Emanuel from the Laquan McDonald shooting.
In a SEIU poll conducted by Public Policy Polling September 10, Preckwinkle leads the field with 25 percent of the vote.
As Chicago’s mayoral race continues to flood with candidates, there is a possibility that Chicago could make history by having a Black female mayor and a Black female Cook County Board President in office at the same time.
The crowded field of 13 candidates may soon grow as politicians and public officials continue considering running for Chicago Mayor. Emanuel’s decision not to run has opened up possibilities for candidates whose chances were slim or were reluctant to run against a mayor in an uncertain political climate.
A former alderman, Preckwinkle will automatically be elected to a third term as Board President in November because she’s running unopposed. Should she decide to run and replace Emanuel, she will not only become the city’s first Black female mayor, she will leave the door open for another Black female, Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims to replace her as Board President, according to board rules. It would be the first time that Chicago and Cook County would be headed by Black females at the same time.
That possibility could also happen with two other Black females who are candidates for Chicago Mayor. Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot are mayoral candidates. Another black female candidate, attorney and activist Amara Enyia is in the race, but her profile is not as strong as Brown’s or Lightfoot’s.
Brown, who’s known for winning campaigns despite opposition and negative publicity, has been campaigning in Black neighborhoods through her “Chicago Listening Tour.” On Tuesday, September 18, Brown will take her tour to Avalon Park, South Chicago, Calumet Heights, South Shore, South Deering, East Side and Hegewisch.
Lightfoot, a 56-year-old attorney and openly gay resident, has been quiet since Emanuel announced his decision. But with the Laquan McDonald trial and pending consent decree with the Chicago Police Department, some say Lightfoot may be the best candidate who voters can trust to lead the city through a tumultuous period. She was widely viewed as Emanuel’s biggest challenger before he decided to run to for a third term.
Lightfoot has called for a $15 minimum wage in Chicago (the current wage is $12), more investment in neighborhood schools, and increased police accountability.
Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers is mulling a mayoral run but as an official appointed by Mayor Emanuel, he may find it difficult for Black voters to support him at the polls.
Retiring Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who’s in negotiations with the city to finalize a Consent Decree for the Chicago Police Department, said she will not run for Chicago Mayor.
“I am a lifelong resident of Chicago. I care deeply for the city,” Madigan said in a statement. “There are a lot of challenges facing Chicago, and I plan to continue helping as a resident and not as mayor.