The already dramatic Chicago mayoral race got much more exciting when incumbent Rahm Emanuel announced he would not seek the another term in the city's top job.
The already crowded field suspected the announcement would bring on new challengers, and so it has. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Thursday she will be running for Chicago mayor.
Preckwinkle made the announcement at the Chicago Lake Shore Hotel, in a nod to Harold Washington, who announced his run in the same location and later became the city's first black mayor, the Associated Press reports. Barack Obama also announced his 1996 state Senate bid at the hotel.
Should Preckwinkle win, she'd make her own history as the first African American female mayor of the city. She'd be the second black person and the second woman to hold the post.
The board president had long resisted calls for her to run. When announcing her bid, she said the reason she finally decided to do so was simple.
“I’m doing this because I can," the 71-year-old politician said. "I’m doing this because it’s necessary. I don’t make this decision lightly."
Preckwinkle will face off against nearly 20 opponents, including Ja'Mal Green, a young Black Lives Matter activist who snagged the attention of Blavity when he announced his run.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, Green didn't look kindly on Preckwinkle's entry into the race, and recently announced he plans to sell "Queen Sugar" t-shirts with Preckwinkle's face on the front. The phrase doesn't reference the popular show, but rather an unpopular sugar tax Preckwinkle threw her support behind last year. Whoa, let the games begin.
Richard M. Daley's former chief of staff, Gery Chico, also announced his mayoral run on Thursday, per ABC Chicago. Bill Daley, Richard's brother, and the man who took over for Emanuel as President Obama's chief of staff, is also running.
A few pillars of Preckwinkle platform include decreasing gun violence, reducing the country jail population, holding the Chicago Police Department accountable, decriminalizing substance abuse and mental illness and highlighting the importance of neighborhood schools.
“My hope is that today is more than a kickoff of a campaign, but the start of a movement — one that is rooted in a new coalition across gender, race, age and geography to demand a mayor’s office that understands values and reflects the diversity of its residents and communities,” noted Preckwinkle. “That’s why I’m here, why I’m running and I hope for your support.”
The Chicago mayoral election will be held February 26. A few more big-name Chicago politicians are rumored to be thinking about joining the race, including Chuy Garcia, who ran against Emanuel in the last mayoral campaign and was encouraged to jump in by Bernie Sanders this week.
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