Mayoral challengers seek to realize their visions for Chicago


Eight challengers are running against incumbent Lori Lightfoot in the current Chicago mayoral election.

Louis Auxenfans, News Editor

Lori Lightfoot is running for a second term, but eight candidates want her job. Take a look at how they are trying to distinguish themselves from each other.  

Can’t decide who to vote for? Take this quiz from the Sun-Times: 

Kam Buckner


Background: Illinois state representative for much of the south lakefront, including the Loop, Bronzeville and Hyde Park, since 2019.  

Campaign Positions: Mr. Buckner has centered his campaign around his ability to work with the state government. He promised to bring hundreds of millions in state funding to Chicago Public Schools schools and create greater economic opportunities in Chicago by expanding rent-subsidy vouchers. Mr. Buckner wants to prioritize growth with a goal of having a city population of 3 three million by 2030.

Jesús ‘Chuy’ García


Background: Congressman for Illinois’ 4th District since 2019, former Cook County commissioner and Chicago alderman. He also ran for mayor in 2015. 

Campaign Positions: Mr. García is framing his candidacy around his ability to gain federal funding for the city, which would help to create affordable housing and balance the city budget. He wants to create a modern, data-informed CPD and pass a Chicago Dream Act to expand work opportunities for immigrant youth and students.

Ja’Mal Green


Background: A community activist from the South Side, Ja’Mal Green has founded several community organizations, including the Small Business Repair Program. At 27, he is the youngest candidate and also ran in 2019. 

Campaign Positions: Mr. Green has focused on addressing crime with holistic solutions. He plans to create a fully staffed social workforce and a youth intervention department. He also wants to ban the act of booting vehicles and excessive ticketing. Mr. Green wants to enact a city-level Green New Deal that will address lead pipes, and a housing microloan program that provides two-year, interest-free loans for low-income homeowners.

Brandon Johnson


Background: Cook County commissioner for the 1st District, formerly a teacher and organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union. 

Campaign Positions: Mr. Johnson’s campaign revolves around socially-focused policy. He wants to install a trauma prevention program with 24-hour access to health care professionals and opportunities for year-round youth employment to prevent crime. Additionally, he is campaigning to provide CPS schools with greater resources to increase pre-kindergarten enrollment. Mr. Johnson also wants to make housing a human right by having stronger protections against evictions.

Sophia King


Background: Alderwoman of the 4th Ward (including parts of Hyde Park and Kenwood) since 2016. 

Campaign Positions: Ms. King’s campaign focuses heavily on policing reform. She wants to hire additional officers to the Chicago Police Department and create a reserve force of 1,000 retired officers to handle non-dangerous duties. She also wants to expand the Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) program for alternative responses to substance abuse, mental health and extreme poverty.

Roderick Sawyer


Background: Alderman for the 6th Ward, representing Chatham, Englewood and Grand Crossing, since 2011. 

Campaign Positions: Mr. Sawyer wants to increase the CPD force by 1,000 officers. He wants to offer a 20-year pension vesting to refresh the police force and ensure officer wellness. Mr. Sawyer also wants to redevelop vacant lots through a low-cost or no-loan program, which will help provide greater investment in communities of color.

Willie Wilson


Background: Chicago businessman who owned McDonald’s franchises and owns a medical supply company. He previously ran for mayor in 2015 and 2019.

Campaign Positions: Mr. Wilson has advocated for a strict, crack-down approach to crime, saying that police should be able to hunt down criminals “like a rabbit.” He wants to split the city into four police districts with their own superintendents. He wants to deploy armed police officers on the CTA, remove people sleeping on trains and lower CTA fares.

Paul Vallas 


Background: Former CPS CEO who also led school systems in Philadelphia and New Orleans; he was also Chicago’s budget director. He ran for mayor in 2019.

Campaign Positions: Mr. Vallas wants to increase beat cop presence to return to a community policing model. He wants to eliminate private security on the CTA to hire more CPD officers. For CPS, Mr. Vallas wants to add social workers, introduce work-study programs, and keep schools open in the evening, on weekends and holidays to serve as community anchors