'Let's get back to work': Chicago Mayor Lightfoot announces re-election campaign

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday she is seeking a second term.

"I don’t look or sound like any other mayor we’ve ever had before, and I’ve had to fight to get a seat at the table," Lightfoot said in a YouTube video announcing her re-election.

"And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m just not the most patient person. I'm only human. And I guess sometimes it shows," Lightfoot said in the video, acknowledging some Chicagoans don't like her style.

The mayor faces an uphill battle with surveys showing an approval rating below 30-percent.

Mayor Lightfoot held a fundraiser downtown Tuesday night, keeping reporters outside. About 200 people attended, including hardcore City Council loyalists.

"If you look at my history, I have always supported the incumbent mayor," said Alderman Walter Burnett.

While those inside said the mayor delivered a standard stump speech, she entered and departed her fundraiser away from cameras, preferring to talk via her announcement video. She took a page from the successful re-election campaign of Rahm Emanuel, who acknowledged his prickly personality rubbed many voters the wrong way.

Before the fundraiser, the mayor's campaign had reported having about $2 million cash on hand — relatively low for an incumbent at this stage.

A source close to one of Lightfoot's challengers, by the way, says that within the next few weeks they plan to deposit a seven-figure sum of money.

In a news release, the Lightfoot campaign is touting some of the mayor's accomplishments.

  • Increased Chicago’s minimum wage to $15 an hour for hundreds of thousands of workers.
  • Expanded funding for community-based violence prevention and implemented measures to combat gang violence.
  • Championed the creation of a new civilian police oversight body, advancing Chicago on a path toward police reform.
  • Forged an equitable and inclusive vaccine distribution program and made unprecedented investments in public health, with a particular focus on the communities most devastated by the virus.
  • Passed transformative, unprecedented budgets, including historic investments in affordable housing, youth programs, mental health and environmental justice.

Mayor Lightfoot will find herself in a heated battle to keep her position.

The other candidates seeking Chicago's top job are Ald. Roderick Sawyer — the son of former Mayor Eugene Sawyer. He became the fifth candidate and the third African American seeking to deny Lightfoot a second term.

State Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) and millionaire businessman Willie Wilson already have declared their candidacies. Now that Lightfoot has made it official, there are four Black candidates in a field that also includes former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Ald. Ray Lopez (15th), the first challenger to declare.


Mayor Lightfoot has seen an onslaught of criticism for her handling of violence in Chicago.

"Of course there are tough challenges ahead. We have a lot of work to do, because change just doesn’t happen overnight," Lightfoot said. "But together, we will make our city safer, fairer, and more equitable for all. Now, let’s get back to work."

The mayor also touts her performance for how she led the city through the coronavirus pandemic.

"When we got knocked down by COVID, we came together as a City and we got right back up. Because that’s who we are, and that’s how we’ve been able to make so much progress, despite all that’s been thrown at us," Lightfoot said.

"It’s you that I fight for. All the people who love, breathe, and believe in making the greatest city in the world even greater. You love this city as much as I do. The fact is, because of you, Chicago is coming back."

State Rep. Buckner, released the following statement after the mayor's announcement.

"Mayor Lightfoot has proven to be utterly ill-equipped to lead Chicago. Carjackings and violence are at record highs, economic disinvestment is drying up our neighborhoods, our schools are under-resourced, our police department is over-extended and under-staffed. Instead of a public safety plan, she’s raised bridges, put up barricades and demanded curfews. Yesterday, three years too late, she announced a single piecemeal public safety measure, which is once again not part of any strategic vision for making Chicagoans safer."

Willie Wilson released the following statement.

"Mayor Lightfoot has proven she is not qualified to be Mayor of Chicago. Her tenure has been marked by a failure to curtail the violence in our city. She failed to protect our city during the George Floyd riots. She failed to back our men and women in law enforcement. She has raised property taxes and her policies are driving people out of the city. She has failed to work in a collaborative way with others. In fact, she closed churches down in violation of the constitution. Mayor Lightfoot has been an embarrassment to our city. My worse mistake was endorsing her to be our mayor. I welcome her entry into the race because she has a failed record of leadership. I will fix our city and make sure that our residents are safe in their neighborhoods, on trains and buses."