Feb 10, 2023 - Politics

Chicago mayoral election 2023: Meet the candidates

Illustration of a check mark being drawn in front of the Chicago City Hall facade in the colors of the city flag

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Ahead of this year's election, we wanted to show a fresh side of Chicago's mayoral hopefuls. So we created a questionnaire to get to know the people behind the policies.

  • Learn what neighborhoods each candidate has lived in, their favorite music venues and where they stand on keeping the Bears in Chicago, among other fun facts.

Kambium "Kam" Buckner

State Rep. Kam Buckner smiles while speaking into the mic at a mayoral candidate forum.
State Rep. Kam Buckner at a mayoral candidate forum in December. Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The candidate: Illinois Rep. Kam Buckner, the son of a law enforcement officer and a CPS teacher, played football at the University of Illinois and went to law school at DePaul. He's served in the General Assembly since 2019 as a progressive Democrat.

Read Buckner's Q&A

Jesús "Chuy" García

 Jesús "Chuy" García smiles while wearing a dark blue suit and a red patterned tie.
Jesús "Chuy" García at the 79th Street Red Line station. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The candidate: U.S. Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García has worked in local politics and community organizing since the 1980s.

  • He co-founded the Pilsen community development group Enlace and backed Mayor Harold Washington as alderperson starting in 1986.
  • García has also served as an Illinois state senator, Cook County Board commissioner and the representative for Illinois' 4th Congressional District since 2018.

Read García's Q&A

Ja'Mal Green

Ja'Mal Green, in a black peacoat and a red tie, speaks while looking off camera.
Chicago mayoral candidate Ja'Mal Green attends a vigil outside Benito Juarez High School in December. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The candidate: Ja'Mal Green has been vocal in pushing for police accountability since the murder of Laquan McDonald in 2014 and has been a fierce critic of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The lifelong Chicagoan ran for mayor in 2019.

Read Green's Q&A

Brandon Johnson

Brandon Johnson speaks while wearing a navy blue suit and a blue tie in a crowd of people.
Chicago mayoral candidate and Cook County commissioner Brandon Johnson. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The candidate: Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson represents the West Side of Chicago on the Cook County Board. The progressive candidate is the son of a pastor and one of 10 siblings.

Read Johnson's Q&A

Sophia King

Sophia King smiles in a crowd of people holding signs showing support for her.
4th Ward Ald. Sophia King on Nov. 21, 2022. Photo: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The candidate: Sophia King has represented the 4th Ward — which runs from the South Loop to Hyde Park — since 2016, and she chairs the City Council's Progressive Caucus.

  • The former Latin School of Chicago teacher co-founded Ariel Community Academy in Kenwood and served as vice-chair of Planned Parenthood Chicago.

Read King's Q&A

Roderick Sawyer

Roderick Sawyer smiles at the camera on a roof with the Chicago skyline in the background.
Photo: Courtesy of Roderick Sawyer

The candidate: The former 6th Ward alderperson and son of a Chicago mayor, Roderick Sawyer gave up his seat on the council to run for the city's top spot.

Read Sawyer's Q&A

Paul Vallas

Paul Vallas speaks in front of Vallas for Mayor signs.
Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas speaks during a press conference at his campaign headquarters this month. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The candidate: Paul Vallas was CEO of Chicago Public Schools in the '90s. He also ran for governor of Illinois in 2002 and lieutenant governor in 2014.

Read Vallas' Q&A

Willie Wilson

Willie Wilson smiles while wearing a black suit and a red tie on a stage.
Mayoral candidate businessman Willie Wilson attended a recent candidates forum. Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The candidate: Willie Wilson, a Chicago businessman, ran for mayor in 2015 and 2019. He also ran for president in 2016 and the U.S. Senate in 2020.

  • Born in Louisiana, Wilson came to Chicago in the 1960s. He's well known for his charity, including last year's gas and grocery giveaways.

Read Wilson's Q&A

Of note: Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the last candidate we were going to highlight, declined to participate after weeks of requests.

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