Chicago Ald. Sophia King jumped into the increasingly crowded mayoral field this week, saying she was looking to portray herself as someone who can unite different constituencies in the city, which she says Mayor Lori Lightfoot n failed to do.
King, who represents the Chicago 4e Ward and is the chair of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, says she is running to build bridges with those she says Lightfoot has alienated with his tactics as mayor.
“I don’t think this administration has the support of the major constituencies in the city, the teachers, the police, the business community,” she said.
King says she would make tackling crime issues a priority and hasn’t avoided criticism from the superintendent of police. David Brown.
“He made a mistake taking the police out of neighborhoods and putting them downtown,” she said. “We need to hold criminals accountable, but we also need to elevate our police and hold them accountable as well.”
Lightfoot’s leadership style has also been criticized by King, who pointed to the deal the mayor’s office made with NASCAR to stage a race on the streets of downtown Chicago next summer.
“It’s bad business,” she said. “How can you even go ahead with such a huge event without consulting the aldermen who are there.”
The mayor has come under fire for her handling of the deal, with several key city council members saying she did not consult with them about the contract before agreeing to the three-year pact with the racing circuit.
According to NBC 5 Investigates, NASCAR will pay the city $2 per ticket sold and pay them a percentage of the commission on food and beverage sales. NASCAR will also pay a $500,000 permit fee for the 2023 event.
Aldus. Brian Hopkins says the annual downtown Lollapalooza festival brings in $6 million in permit fees for the city and takes over Grant Park for a week during the summer.
NASCAR, meanwhile, will be contractually allowed to close Grant Park west of the Buckingham Fountain until 21 days before the race and then 10 days after. The staging window will be nine days before the race for the road closures of DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Columbus Drive and Congress Park Drive, according to the disclosures.
A potential key campaign strategy for King could draw high-profile backers, as she is close to both Cook County Council chairman Toni Preckwinkle, who lost to Lightfoot in the 2019 runoff, and the former President Barack Obama.
“I’m going to appeal for the support of the whole city,” she said. “I definitely talked about it with (Preckwinkle).”
King’s entry into the race comes amid rumors of a potential run for Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, who lost a runoff to former mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015.
García stayed out of the 2019 free-for-all to replace Emanuel, but has yet to rule out a run even if he wins his candidacy for re-election to Congress this fall.
King says she hopes to win García’s support in the race.
“Chuy jumping into the race would change the landscape,” she said. “I contacted Chuy, and I also hope to have his support.”