Apr 18, 2022 - Politics

Mayor Lightfoot faces challengers and challenges

Photo illustration of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot with lines radiating from her.

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The field of candidates officially running for mayor in 2023 is growing.

Why it matters: Mayor Lori Lightfoot is being challenged on how she handled the pandemic, education, and crime during her first term.

Driving the news: Last week, businessman and perennial candidate Willie Wilson officially announced his candidacy, joining Ald. Ray López (15th) and FOP president John Catanzara.

  • Mayor Lightfoot has yet to announce her reelection bid but is actively raising money.
  • Another formidable challenger would be U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (5th). He hasn't announced his candidacy but has created a new campaign committee.

By the numbers: Fourteen candidates were on the ballot in 2019, so expect there to be more names thrown into the mix, especially after the losers of the Illinois primary in June turn their attention to the mayoral election.

Issues that the candidates are already debating include:

Pandemic: Lightfoot was dealt a rough hand by governing during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. She got high marks for early leadership but has since been questioned about everything from metrics to mandates.

Crime: Gun violence broke records last year and a rise in carjackings has residents demanding answers, while Lightfoot has had a contentious relationship with the police union.

Education: CPS labor stoppages have plagued Lightfoot's first term. A 2019 teachers' strike and fighting over COVID protocols led to three stoppages in 27 months.

Corruption: The bribery indictment of Ald. Ed Burke during her 2019 campaign offered a big opportunity for Lightfoot to present herself as a reformer. With Burke — a fundraiser and supporter of many Chicago politicians — about to go to trial this fall, it may still be the gift that keeps on giving.

Politics: Mayor Lightfoot has butted heads with community groups, alderpeople, and presumed allies.


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