Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson says he'll move out of the city if Lightfoot is re-elected
CHICAGO - Born to impoverished sharecroppers in Jim Crow-era Louisiana, Willie Wilson made it through only the seventh grade before running away from home at age 13.
In Chicago, he found a job cleaning floors for McDonald's, eventually rising to own several McDonald's franchises of his own.
But the multi-millionaire philanthropist sees the city at a critical crossroads now.
Should Mayor Lori Lightfoot win four more years on the City Hall’s fifth floor, Wilson says he’ll run away from home again.
"If she got re-elected, I'll move out of the city of Chicago," said Wilson. Asked why, he added, "Because you can't take crime, taxes high. I'm a business person as well, you know. You got red light taxes, driveway taxes, head taxes. Crime is high. Police got bad morale. Who (would) want to live here?"
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Wilson called for "taking the handcuffs off police and putting them on bad guys."
Wilson says he has given away $5.2 million of his fortune this year, after giving away an estimated $70 million since the 1980s.
He’s attracted nationwide attention by handing out free gasoline, groceries and plain old cash.
Wilson says he's running for mayor to rebuild the city he loves.
"People helped me. I owe it to Chicago to get involved to help the citizens," said Wilson.
Wilson has run as a Democrat for president and for U.S. Senate, but Lightfoot labels him a Donald Trump Republican millionaire.
"I've never met Donald Trump in my life," Wilson said. "I respect — I never met president Biden in my life also. I respect both persons for the house -- for the position they hold."
Wilson calls his endorsement of Lightfoot in the runoff four years ago, "a helluva bad mistake."
He doesn't think she'll be re-elected, but he says he would "be one to move out, as well as probably a lot more of my friends as well."
Wilson thinks a crowded field would work to his advantage. And, with Congressman Chuy Garcia and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) both preparing to launch campaigns, there may soon be nearly a dozen active candidates in the mayoral contest.