|Mayor of Chicago|
Seal of the City of Chicago
|Term length||4 years|
|Inaugural holder||William Butler Ogden|
|Website||Office of the Mayor|
The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive of city government in Chicago, Illinois, the third-largest city in the United States. The mayor is responsible for the administration and management of various city departments, submits proposals and recommendations to the Chicago City Council, is active in the enforcement of the city's ordinances, submits the city's annual budget and appoints city officers, department commissioners or directors, and members of city boards and commissions.
During sessions of the city council, the mayor serves as the presiding officer. The mayor is not allowed to vote on issues except in certain instances, most notably where the vote taken on a matter before the body results in a tie.
The office of mayor was created when Chicago became a city in 1837.
The mayor appoints the commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department and superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. He or she also appoints the heads of other departments,the largest of which are the Water Management Department (formed by the consolidation of the former Water Department and Sewer Department under Richard M. Daley), and the Streets & Sanitation Department. He or she also appoints members to the boards of several special-purpose governmental bodies including the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. Under Richard M. Daley, the Illinois legislature granted the mayor power to appoint the governing board and chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools and subordinated the district to the mayor; the district had long been an independent unit of government.
The Chicago City Clerk and City Treasurer of Chicago are elected separately, as are the 50 aldermen who form the city council. The mayor is empowered, however, to fill vacancies in any of these 52 elected offices by appointment. In turn, the city council elects one of its own to fill a mayoral vacancy.
The mayor of Chicago is elected by popular vote every four years, on the last Tuesday in February. A run-off election, in the event that no candidate garners more than fifty percent of the vote, is held on the first Tuesday in April. The election is held on a non-partisan basis. Chicago is the largest city in the United States not to limit the term of service for its mayor.
In accordance with Illinois law,the city council elects a vice mayor who serves as interim mayor in the event of a vacancy in the office of the mayor or the inability of the mayor to serve due to illness or injury, until the city council elects one of its members acting mayor or until the mayoral term expires. As of May 2019, the current vice mayor is Tom Tunney. However, if a vacancy occurs in the office of mayor with more than 28 months remaining in the mayoral term and at least 130 days before the next general municipal election, then a special election must be held to choose a new mayor to serve out the remainder of the term at that general municipal election; if a vacancy occurs with fewer than 28 months remaining in the mayoral term or fewer than 130 days before the next general municipal election, then the acting mayor serves as mayor until the mayoral term expires.
The order-of succession involving the vice mayor was made concrete following disputes that arose in the aftermath of the death in office of Richard J. Daley, and was subsequently implemented following the death in office of Harold Washington, which saw Vice Mayor David Orr become acting mayor.Prior to this, the city had vague succession laws which indicated that the president pro tempore of the City Council would succeed as mayor. This was not followed after the death of Daley, and the city council appointed Michael Bilandic acting mayor instead of having pro tempore Wilson Frost become mayor, due to City Corporation Counsel William R. Quinlan ruling that, since the city did not have a statute specifically outlining succession, the City Council would need to elect the interim mayor.
Six instances have seen the City Council appoint either an acting mayor, acting mayor pro tempore, or interim mayor.
In the absence of the mayor during meetings of the city council, the president pro tempore of the city council, who is a member of and elected by the city council, acts as presiding officer. Unlike the mayor, the president pro tempore can vote on all legislative matters. If neither the mayor nor pro tempore can preside, the vice mayor presides.
The first mayor was William Butler Ogden. 45 men and two women (Jane Byrne, 1979–1983, Lori Lightfoot, 2019–), have held the office. Two sets of father and son have been elected Mayor of Chicago: Carter Harrison, Sr. (1893) and Carter Harrison, Jr. (1897–1905, 1911–1915), as well as Richard J. Daley (1955–1976) and Richard M. Daley (1989–2011). Carter Harrison, Jr. was the first mayor to have been born in the city. As an interim mayor, David Duvall Orr had the shortest mayoral term. Richard M. Daley was elected six times becoming Chicago's longest-serving mayor, surpassing his father's record. The first Irish Catholic mayor was John Patrick Hopkins (1893–1895), and Rahm Emanuel (2011–2019) is the only Jewish American to have served as mayor. Harold Washington (1983–1987) was the first African American mayor. Current Mayor Lightfoot (sworn in May 2019) is the city's first African American woman and first openly LGBTQ mayor.
By charter, Chicago has a "weak-mayor" system, in which most of the power is vested in the city council. In practice, however, the mayor of Chicago has long been one of the most powerful municipal chief executives in the nation. Unlike mayors in most other weak-mayor systems, he or she has the power to draw up the budget. For most of the 20th century, before the decline of patronage and the mayor's office becoming officially nonpartisan in 1999, the mayor was the de facto leader of the city's Democratic Party, and had great influence over the ward organizations.
The mayoral term in Chicago was one year from 1837 through 1863, when it was changed to two years. In 1907, it was changed again, this time to four years. Until 1861, municipal elections were held in March. In that year, legislation moved them to April. In 1869, however, election day was changed to November, and terms expiring in April of that year were changed. In 1875, election day was moved back to April by the city's vote to operate under the Cities and Villages Act of 1872.
Between 1833 and 1837, Chicago was incorporated as a town. Two individuals served as Town President during that period.
|No.||Town President||Term in office||Party||Notes|
|1||Thomas Jefferson Vance Owen||August 12, 1833|
|2||John H. Kinzie||1834|
March 4, 1837
Chicago has been incorporated as a city since 1837. Here is a list of mayors since that time.
|#Consecutive terms||#Mayor (prior non-consecutive terms in parens)||Mayor||Term start||Term end||Terms||Years|
|1||1||William B. Ogden||1837||1838||1||1||Democratic|
|2||2||Buckner S. Morris||1838||1839||1||1||Whig|
|3||3||Benjamin W. Raymond||1839||1840||1||1||Whig|
|5||5||Francis C. Sherman||1841||1842||1||1||Democratic|
|6||(3)||Benjamin W. Raymond||1842||1843||1||1||Whig|
|10||8||John P. Chapin||1846||1847||1||1||Whig|
|12||10||James H. Woodworth||1848||1850||2||2||None|
|14||11||Walter S. Gurnee||1851||1853||2||2||Democratic|
|15||12||Charles McNeill Gray||1853||1854||1||1||Democratic|
|16||13||Isaac L. Milliken||1854||1855||1||1||Democratic|
|20||17||John C. Haines||1858||1860||2||2||Democratic|
|22||18||Julian S. Rumsey||1861||1862||1||1||Republican|
|23||(5)||Francis C. Sherman||1862||1865||2||2||Democratic|
|24||19||John B. Rice||1865||1869||2||4||Republican|
|25||20||Roswell B. Mason||1869||1871||1||2||Citizens|
|26||21||Joseph Medill||1871||1873||1||2||Republican (Dry)|
| Lester L. Bond |
|27||22||Harvey Doolittle Colvin||1873||1875||1||2||Republican (Wet)|
|29||24||Carter Harrison Sr.||1879||1887||4||8||Democratic|
|30||25||John A. Roche||1887||1889||1||2||Republican|
|31||26||DeWitt C. Cregier||1889||1891||1||2||Democratic|
|33||(24)||Carter Harrison Sr. †||1893||1893||1⁄4||1⁄2||Democratic|
|34||28|| George Bell Swift |
|35||29||John P. Hopkins||1893||1895||2⁄3||3||Democratic|
|36||(28)||George Bell Swift||1895||1897||1||2||Republican|
|37||30||Carter Harrison Jr.||1897||1905||4||8||Democratic|
|38||31||Edward F. Dunne||1905||1907||1||2||Democratic|
|39||32||Fred A. Busse||1907||1911||1||4||Republican|
|40||(30)||Carter Harrison Jr.||1911||1915||1||4||Democratic|
|41||33||William H. Thompson||1915||1923||2||8||Republican|
|42||34||William E. Dever||1923||1927||1||4||Democratic|
|43||(33)||William H. Thompson||1927||1931||1||4||Republican|
|44||35||Anton Cermak †||1931||1933||1⁄2||2||Democratic|
|45||36|| Frank J. Corr |
|46||37||Edward J. Kelly||1933||1947||3 1⁄2||14||Democratic|
|47||38||Martin H. Kennelly||1947||1955||2||8||Democratic|
|48||39||Richard J. Daley †||1955||1976||5 3⁄8||21||Democratic|
|49||40||Michael A. Bilandic||1976||1979||5⁄8||2 1⁄3||Democratic|
|51||42||Harold Washington †||1983||1987||1 1⁄8||4 7⁄12||Democratic|
|52||43|| David Orr |
|53||44||Eugene Sawyer||1987||1989||17⁄48||1 1⁄2||Democratic|
|54||45||Richard M. Daley||1989||2011||5 1⁄2||22||Democratic 1|
|55||46||Rahm Emanuel||2011||2019||2||8||Democratic 1|
|56||47||Lori Lightfoot||2019||Democratic 1|
† Deceased/murdered in office.
1 Since 1999, mayoral elections have officially been nonpartisan. A 1995 Illinois law stipulated that "candidates for mayor . . . no longer would run under party labels in Chicago." However, Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel and Lori Lightfoot are known to be Democrats.
As of 2018, four mayors of Chicago are still living, the oldest of whom is Richard M. Daley. –1983), on November 14, 2014. The most recently serving mayor to have died, however, was Eugene Sawyer (1987–1989), on January 19, 2008.The most recent former mayor to die was Jane Byrne (1979
|Name||Mayoral term||Date of birth|
|David Orr||November 1987 – December 1987||October 4, 1944|
|Richard M. Daley||1989–2011||April 24, 1942|
|Rahm Emanuel||2011–2019||November 29, 1959|
|Lori Lightfoot||2019–present||August 4, 1962|
|Vice mayor of Chicago|
Seal of the City of Chicago
|Inaugural holder||Casimir Laskowski|
In accordance with Illinois law, the city council elects a vice mayor who serves as interim mayor in the event of a vacancy in the office of the mayor or the inability of the mayor to serve due to illness or injury, until the city council elects one of its members acting mayor or until the mayoral term expires. The current vice mayor is Tom Tunney.
The position was created by state law after the power struggle that took place following Richard J. Daley's death in office.
The position is considered to be largely ceremonial.
If neither the mayor nor president pro tempore can preside over a City Council meeting, then the vice mayor presides.
|Vice-Mayor||Tenure||Mayor(s) serve under||Notes||Citations|
|Casimir Laskowski||1976—1979||Michael Bilandic||Inaugural holder of office|
|Richard Mell||1979—1987|| Jane Byrne |
|David Orr||1987—1988|| Harold Washington |
|Served as "Acting Mayor" for 1 week|
|Terry Gabinski||1988—1998|| Eugene Sawyer |
Richard M. Daley
|Bernard Stone||1998—2011||Richard M. Daley|
|Ray Suarez||2011–2015||Rahm Emanuel|
|Brendan Reilly||2015—2019||Rahm Emanuel|
|Tom Tunney||2019—present||Lori Lightfoot|
Richard Michael Daley is an American politician who served as the 54th Mayor of Chicago, Illinois from 1989 to 2011. Daley was elected mayor in 1989 and was reelected five times until declining to run for a seventh term. At 22 years, he was the longest-serving Chicago mayor, surpassing the tenure of his father, Richard J. Daley.
Jane Margaret Byrne was an American politician who was the first woman to be elected mayor of a major city in the United States. She served as the 50th Mayor of Chicago from April 16, 1979, until April 29, 1983. Byrne won the Chicago mayoral election on April 3, 1979, becoming the first female mayor of the city, the second largest city in the United States at the time. Prior to her tenure as mayor, Byrne served as Chicago's commissioner of consumer sales from 1969 until 1977, the only woman to be a part of Mayor Richard J. Daley's cabinet.
William Michael Daley is an American lawyer, politician and former banker. He served as White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, from January 2011 to January 2012. He also served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, from 1997 to 2000, under President Bill Clinton. He has also served on the executive committee of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Daley was a candidate for Governor of Illinois in the 2014 gubernatorial election, until dropping out of the race on September 16, 2013. He ran in the 2019 Chicago mayoral election but came in third in the first-round voting, and did not advance to the runoff. He served as the Vice Chairman of BNY Mellon from June through October 2019. Since November 13, 2019, Daley has served as the Vice Chairman of Public Affairs for Wells Fargo.
David Duvall Orr is an American Democratic politician who served as the County Clerk of Cook County from 1990 to 2018. Orr previously served as alderman for the 49th ward in Chicago City Council from 1979 to 1990. He briefly served as acting Mayor of Chicago from November 25 to December 2, 1987, following the death of Mayor Harold Washington. Orr retired from the office of Cook County Clerk in 2018, opting not to run for an eighth term.
Michael Anthony Bilandic was an American Illinois politician who served as the 49th mayor of Chicago, Illinois, after the death of then-mayor Richard J. Daley, from December 20, 1976, until April 16, 1979. Bilandic was a Democrat and a Croatian-American who also served as Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court some years after his tenure as Chicago mayor. Bilandic practiced law in Chicago for several years, having graduated from the DePaul University College of Law. Bilandic served as an alderman in the Chicago City Council, representing the eleventh ward on the south-west side from June 1969 until he began his tenure as mayor in December 1976.
Thomas M. Tunney is an American politician and entrepreneur from Chicago, Illinois. Since 2003, he has served as an alderman on the Chicago City Council. He represents the prominent 44th Ward of the city, which includes major tourist destinations, Boystown and Wrigleyville neighborhoods. Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed him vice mayor in 2019.
Richard F. "Dick" Mell is an American politician. A Democrat, he served on the Chicago City Council from 1975 to 2013. He retired in 2013 and was succeeded by Deb Mell, his daughter.
Carrie Austin is alderman of the 34th ward on Chicago's far south side. The predominantly African-American ward includes portions of Morgan Park, Roseland, Washington Heights and West Pullman.
The Cook County Democratic Party is a political party which represents voters in 50 wards in the city of Chicago and 30 suburban townships of Cook County. The organization has dominated Chicago politics since the 1930s. It relies on a tight organizational structure of ward and township committeeperson to elect candidates. At the height of its influence under Richard J. Daley in the 1960s, it was one of the most powerful political machines in American history. Party members have been convicted of public corruption. By the beginning of the 21st century the party had largely ceased to function as a machine due to the decline of political patronage following the issuing of the Shakman Decrees. The current Chair is Toni Preckwinkle.
Timothy C. Evans is an American attorney, politician, former alderman and the current Chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. Evans is noted as the first African-American Chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. A graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Evans was first elected to the bench in 1992, and was selected by his fellow judges as Chief Judge in 2001.
Toni Lynn Preckwinkle is an American politician and the current Cook County Board President in Cook County, Illinois, United States. She was first elected as President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the executive branch of Cook County government, in November 2010 and became the first woman elected to this position. She was previously a five-term alderman in the Chicago City Council, representing Chicago's 4th ward. Preckwinkle was a candidate for Mayor of Chicago in the 2019 election, and advanced to the runoff election on April 2, but lost to Lori Lightfoot.
Wilson Frost was an American politician, serving as alderman of Chicago, Illinois' 21st and 34th ward; from 1967 until 1987. Upon the death of Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, Frost served as interim mayor and was briefly claimed to be Daley's successor in December 1976. Had Frost successfully established this claim, he would have been Chicago's first African-American mayor.
The Chicago mayoral election of 1989 saw Democratic nominee Richard M. Daley win election to the remainder of an unexpired mayoral term with a 14% margin of victory. This marked a return for the Daley family to the office of mayor. Daley was elected over Alderman Timothy Evans, the nominee of the newly formed Harold Washington Party, and the Republican nominee Ed Vrdolyak.
Jesús G. "Chuy" García is a Mexican-born American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 4th district since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Illinois Senate, as well as Chicago City Council before his election to Congress. A candidate for mayor of Chicago in the 2015 election, García finished second in the February 24 general election and forced a head-to-head runoff against the incumbent, Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel won the April 7 runoff.
In the Chicago mayoral election of 1977, interim mayor Michael A. Bilandic was elected to complete the remainder of an unexpired mayoral term, defeating Republican Dennis H. Bloc by a landslide 56% margin.
The 2019 Chicago mayoral election was the 2019 edition of the quadrennial elections held to determine the Mayor of the City of Chicago, Illinois. The election was held on February 26, 2019. Since no candidate received a majority of votes, a runoff election was held on April 2, 2019 between the two candidates with the most votes, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle. Lightfoot defeated Preckwinkle in the runoff election, becoming mayor-elect of Chicago. Lightfoot was sworn in as mayor on May 20, 2019.
The 2019 Chicago elections took place in two rounds on February 26, 2019, and April 2, 2019. Elections were held for Mayor of Chicago, City Clerk of Chicago, City Treasurer of Chicago, and all 50 members of the Chicago City Council. The candidates who won in these elections were inaugurated on May 20, 2019. Four ballot referenda were also voted on in certain precincts. The elections were administered by the Chicago Board of Elections.
Lori Elaine Lightfoot is an American attorney and politician who is currently serving as the 56th mayor of Chicago. Before becoming mayor, Lightfoot worked in private legal practice as a partner at Mayer Brown and held various government positions in the City of Chicago. Most notably, she served as president of the Chicago Police Board and chair of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force. Lightfoot ran for Mayor of Chicago in 2019, advancing to a runoff election against Toni Preckwinkle in the February 2019 election. She defeated Preckwinkle in the runoff on April 2, 2019. She is a member of the Democratic Party.
Chicago has held regularly-scheduled popular elections to select the city's mayor ever since it was incorporated as a city in 1837.
Brendan Reilly is an American politician who has served as alderman of Chicago's 42nd ward since 2007, when he unseated incumbent Burton Natarus. He served as Vice Mayor of Chicago, being elected to that position by the Chicago City Council, from 2015 to 2019. Since May 2019, he has served as President pro tempore of the Council, which means that he presides over council proceedings in the absence of the mayor.
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