Mayoral race heats up after Emanuel’s decision not to run

Mayor Rahm Emanuel made an abrupt announcement on Sept. 4 that he would not be seeking re-election in the upcoming mayoral election. Emanuel, who has already served two terms, didn’t give a reason for his decision to not run, but his controversial time in office already had a number of opponents scrambling to get their names on the ballot for the Feb. 26 election.

The announcement turned an already-hectic mayoral race on its head. There are currently a dozen or so candidates who have already filed to get on the ballot, and more are expected to announce their plans to run before the Nov. 26 filing deadline.

A number of polls have been conducted since Emanuel made his announcement, though none of the polls have been able to declare a solid front- runner in the race.

Here is a look at 12 of the biggest names in the mayoral race, which range from former police Superintendent Gary McCarthy and Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown.

Dorothy Brown

Brown is currently the Cook County Circuit Court clerk. She was elected into office in 2000 and has been re-eleceted for four additional terms

She previously ran for mayor in 2007, though she ended up losing against Richard M. Daley.

Brown has been the focus of a federal investigation that alleged there was a bribes-for-jobs scheme. She has denied the allegations of any wrongdoing and has never been charged.

Amara Enyia

Enyia is currently serving as the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

She had previously ran for mayor in 2015, but she ended up dropping out and joining then-Ald. Bob Fioretti’s team.

Enyia’s career has taken her from working as a journalist before obtaining a law degree then taking the opportunity to work in City Hall before becoming the executive director at a non-profit.

Ja’Mal Green

Green is a local activist and entrepreneur who grew up in Chicago. He has made a name for himself in different activist groups around the city.

Green’s activist work has landed him a leadership role within the Black Lives Matter movement. He also helped to create a non-profit youth center.

During the 2016 presidential elections, Green worked with Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

Jeremiah Joyce Jr.

Joyce Jr. has spent most of his life surrounded by politics as his father is former 19th Ward alderman and state Sen. Jeremiah Joyce.

Joyce Jr. practices law in West Beverly. He is also a former assistant state’s attorney.

He has not officially announced his candidacy yet, though it is rumored that he will soon.

John Kozlar

Kozlar has run for Chicago alderman in 2011 and 2015, pushing Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson into a runoff in the 2015 race.

He currently works as a lawyer, graduating from John Marshall Law School and now works for Aon.

Kozlar spent a number of years working as a president for a local non- profit.

Troy La Raviere

LaRaviere is a former CPS principal and the head of the Chicago principals association.

He has been a strong opponent against Emanuel, including an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times’ criticizing the mayor’s approach to education.

LaRaviere was featured in two different ads for 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In the ads he spoke openly about the corruption within Chicago.

Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot is the former Chicago Police Board president and federal prosector.

She has been the spearhead for the overhaul of the Chicago Police Department after being appointed by Emanuel to co-chair a police reform panel.

If she is elected, Lightfoot would be Chicago’s first openly gay mayor and the first African-American woman to be mayor.

Garry McCarthy

McCarthy is the former Chicago Police Superintendent.

He had been fired in December 2015 by Emanuel after a video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald was released.

Emanuel and McCarthy have been in a heated battle since McCarthy was fired, with both campaigns accusing one another of a myriad of issues.

Matthew Roney

Roney is currently a DePaul senior majoring in political science and pharmaceutical technician.

He has founded a new political group, the Garden Party in an effort to “turn his policies into priorities on the city’s agenda.”

According to his campaign website, his pharmacy job led him to pursue politics because many of his customers could not afford their medication.

Neal Sales-Griffin

Sales-Griffin is currently the CEO for, a non-profit that teaches kids how to code. He also started The Starter League, a coding and entrepreneurial school.

He has worked with Basecamp, which shares their project management software with teachers and students in Chicago- area schools for free.

Sales-Griffin has also worked as a teacher at a CPS high school and as a professor at Northwestern University.

Paul Vallas

Vallas is the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and Onetime City Budget Director.

Vallas has received criticism from Emanuel, who says that during his time with CPS Vallas was responsible for the skipping of pension payments.

His major campaign points have been focused on pushing more money into economically distressed areas and raising opportunities for “disenfranchised Chicagoans.”

Willie Wilson

Wilson is the owner of Omar Medical Supplies, and the former owner of multiple McDonald’s franchises.

A complaint was filed by the Illinous Campaign for Political Reform against Wilson because he gave money to a church and residents to pay property taxes, though he did nothing illegally.

Wilson ran for mayor in 2015 and also ran for U.S. president in 2016.