Feb 3, 2023 - Politics

Chicago business community quiet on mayoral race


Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Though most big unions have announced their mayoral endorsements, Chicago's business community has remained mostly mum.

Driving the news: In endorsing Paul Vallas on Wednesday, 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney suggested the business community might have finally found its guy.

  • Tunney, who owns the North Side breakfast restaurant chain Ann Sather, said in a statement that Vallas understands "details that impact the financial stability of the city and the families and businesses who pay taxes to support it."

Why it matters: Worries over post-pandemic fiscal recovery, big corporations leaving town and closings on the Magnificent Mile have dominated discussions of Chicago's economic future.

  • And the biz community has the influence and funds to help push a candidate to victory.

Context: Business leaders recently formed a well-funded PAC, called Get Stuff Done, to prevent a perceived leftward swing of the City Council. The group is starting to make aldermanic endorsements.

  • But yesterday, the PAC's co-founder Ron Holmes told Axios the group has no plans to weigh in on the mayoral race.
  • The powerful Illinois Restaurant Association reminded Axios that it, too, stays out of mayoral endorsements.
  • The influential Chicago Federation of Labor, which announced endorsements for pretty much every other municipal race, is also staying neutral as the Feb. 28 mayoral election nears.
  • The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, which supported Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the 2019 runoff, hasn't endorsed anyone at this time.

Between the lines: Vallas, who served as budget director and head of CPS under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, is viewed by many as a moderate Democrat. Some opponents, including Lightfoot, have tried to cast him as right-leaning.

  • Among his plans for economic development, Vallas has promised to create a land trust to address shuttered business corridors, per WBEZ.

What they're saying: "Public safety and crime are not only the top issues facing our community, but it's also the number one issue facing our economy as well," Jack Lavin, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, told Axios.

  • "Pair that with long-standing fiscal challenges and the rising cost of doing business, we need to focus on developing a healthy and robust economy that benefits all Chicagoans."

Go deeper on mayoral candidates' plans to spur economic growth, via WBEZ.


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