Mayor of Chicago

Last updated
Mayor of Chicago
Chicago city seal.png
Seal of the City of Chicago
Lori Lightfoot (2).png
Lori Lightfoot

since May 20, 2019
Style Her Honor
The Honorable
Term length 4 years
Inaugural holder William Butler Ogden
SuccessionVice Mayor
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.

Chief executive officer Highest-ranking corporate officer or administrator

The chief executive officer (CEO), or just chief executive (CE), is the most senior corporate, executive, or administrative officer in charge of managing an organization – especially an independent legal entity such as a company or nonprofit institution. CEOs lead a range of organizations, including public and private corporations, non-profit organizations and even some government organizations. The CEO of a corporation or company typically reports to the board of directors and is charged with maximizing the value of the entity, which may include maximizing the share price, market share, revenues or another element. In the non-profit and government sector, CEOs typically aim at achieving outcomes related to the organization's mission, such as reducing poverty, increasing literacy, etc.

Government of Chicago political and legal structure

The government of the City of Chicago, Illinois is divided into executive and legislative branches. The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive, elected by general election for a term of four years, with no term limits. The mayor appoints commissioners and other officials who oversee the various departments. In addition to the mayor, Chicago's two other citywide elected officials are the City Clerk and the treasurer.

Chicago city and county seat of Cook County, Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is also the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the US, with portions of the northwest city limits extending into DuPage County near O'Hare Airport. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third most populous in the nation.


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.

Appointment powers

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, [1] 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.

Chicago Fire Department the fire department of Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) provides fire suppression, Rescue services and emergency medical services to the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Chicago. The Chicago Fire Department is the third largest municipal fire department in the United States after the New York City Fire Department and Cal Fire, as measured by sworn personnel. It is also one of the oldest major organized fire departments in the nation.

Chicago Police Department principal law enforcement agency of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is the law enforcement agency of the U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois, under the jurisdiction of the City Council. It is the second-largest municipal police department in the United States, behind the New York City Police Department. It has approximately 13,500 officers and over 1,925 other employees. Tracing its roots back to the year of 1835, the Chicago Police Department is one of the oldest modern police forces in the world.

Richard M. Daley Illinois politician

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.

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.

City Treasurer of Chicago

The City Treasurer of Chicago is an elected official of the City of Chicago.

Election and succession

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.

A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms an officeholder may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method of curbing the potential for monopoly, where a leader effectively becomes "president for life". This is intended to protect a democracy from becoming a de facto dictatorship. Sometimes, there is an absolute or lifetime limit on the number of terms an officeholder may serve; sometimes, the restrictions are merely on the number of consecutive terms he or she may serve.

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. [2] 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.

In law, when someone is said to be acting in a position it can mean that, the position has not yet been formally created, the person is only occupying the position temporarily to ensure continuity, or the person does not have a mandate.

Tom Tunney American politician

Thomas M. Tunney is an American entrepreneur and politician 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.

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.


The first mayor was William Butler Ogden. Two sets of father and son have been elected Mayor of Chicago: Carter Harrison, Sr. and Carter Harrison, Jr. as well as Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley. 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 originally elected in 1989 and re-elected for the sixth time in 2007. On December 26, 2010, Daley became Chicago's longest-serving mayor, surpassing his father's record. [3] 45 men and two women (Jane Byrne, 19791983, Lori Lightfoot, 2019), have held the office. Richard M. Daley (19892011) was the longest serving mayor, and Harold Washington (19831987) was the first African American mayor. The first Irish Catholic mayor was John Patrick Hopkins (18931895), and Rahm Emanuel (20112019) is the only Jewish American to have served as mayor. Current Mayor Lightfoot (sworn in May 2019) is the city's first African American woman and first openly LGBTQ mayor.

Richard J. Daley American politician

Richard Joseph Daley was an American politician who served as the Mayor of Chicago from 1955 to his death and the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party Central Committee from 1953 to his death. Daley was Chicago's third consecutive mayor from the working-class, heavily Irish American South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport, where he lived his entire life. He was the patriarch of the Daley family, whose members include Richard M. Daley, another former mayor of Chicago; William M. Daley, a former United States Secretary of Commerce; John P. Daley, a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners; and Patrick Daley Thompson, an alderman of the Chicago City Council.

Jane Byrne American politician; Mayor of Chicago, Illinois

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.

Lori Lightfoot 56th Mayor of Chicago

Lori Elaine Lightfoot is an American politician and lawyer serving as 56th and current 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. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

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. [4]

List of mayors

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.

William B. Ogden was the first mayor of Chicago. William B Ogden by GPA Healy, 1855.jpg
William B. Ogden was the first mayor of Chicago.
Joseph Medill, 26th mayor of Chicago, was the first foreign-born mayor. Joseph Medill.jpg
Joseph Medill, 26th mayor of Chicago, was the first foreign-born mayor.
Harold Washington, 51st mayor of Chicago, was the first African American mayor. Washington h.jpg
Harold Washington, 51st mayor of Chicago, was the first African American mayor.
Richard M. Daley, 54th mayor of Chicago, was the longest-serving mayor (22 years). Richard M. Daley (4655925743 aacdba6297 n) (cropped).jpg
Richard M. Daley, 54th mayor of Chicago, was the longest-serving mayor (22 years).
Lori Lightfoot, 56th and current Mayor of Chicago, is the first African American Woman, and first openly LGBTQ mayor of Chicago. Lori Lightfoot at MacLean Center (10a).png
Lori Lightfoot, 56th and current Mayor of Chicago, is the first African American Woman, and first openly LGBTQ mayor of Chicago.

#Consecutive terms [5] #Mayor (prior non-consecutive terms in parens)MayorTerm startTerm endTermsYears Party
11 William B. Ogden 1837183811 Democratic
22 Buckner S. Morris 1838183911 Whig
33 Benjamin W. Raymond 1839184011 Whig
44 Alexander Loyd 1840184111 Democratic
55 Francis C. Sherman 1841184211 Democratic
6(3) Benjamin W. Raymond 1842184311 Whig
76 Augustus Garrett 1843184411 Democratic
87 Alson Sherman 1844184511None
9(6) Augustus Garrett 1845184611 Democratic
108 John P. Chapin 1846184711 Whig
119 James Curtiss 1847184811 Democratic
1210 James H. Woodworth 1848185022None
13(9) James Curtiss 1850185111 Democratic
1411 Walter S. Gurnee 1851185322 Democratic
1512 Charles McNeill Gray 1853185411 Democratic
1613 Isaac L. Milliken 1854185511 Democratic
1714 Levi Boone 1855185611 American
1815 Thomas Dyer 1856185711 Democratic
1916 John Wentworth 1857185811 Republican
2017 John C. Haines 1858186022 Democratic
21(16) John Wentworth 1860186111 Republican
2218 Julian S. Rumsey 1861186211 Republican
23(5) Francis C. Sherman 1862186522 Democratic
2419 John B. Rice 1865186924 Republican
2520 Roswell B. Mason 1869187112Citizens
2621 Joseph Medill 1871187312 Republican (Dry)
Lester L. Bond
187318731412 Republican
2722 Harvey Doolittle Colvin 1873187512 Republican (Wet)
2823 Monroe Heath 1876187924 Republican
2924 Carter Harrison Sr. 1879188748 Democratic
3025 John A. Roche 1887188912 Republican
3126 DeWitt C. Cregier 1889189112 Democratic
3227 Hempstead Washburne 1891189312 Republican
33(24) Carter Harrison Sr.189318931412 Democratic
3428 George Bell Swift
(interim mayor)
1893189311216 Republican
3529 John P. Hopkins 18931895233 Democratic
36(28) George Bell Swift 1895189712 Republican
3730 Carter Harrison Jr. 1897190548 Democratic
3831 Edward F. Dunne 1905190712 Democratic
3932 Fred A. Busse 1907191114 Republican
40(30) Carter Harrison Jr. 1911191514 Democratic
4133 William H. Thompson 1915192328 Republican
4234 William E. Dever 1923192714 Democratic
43(33) William H. Thompson 1927193114 Republican
4435 Anton Cermak19311933122 Democratic
4536 Frank J. Corr
(acting mayor)
19331933 Democratic
4637 Edward J. Kelly 193319473 1214 Democratic
4738 Martin H. Kennelly 1947195528 Democratic
4839 Richard J. Daley195519765 3821 Democratic
4940 Michael A. Bilandic 19761979582 13 Democratic
5041 Jane Byrne 1979198314 Democratic
5142 Harold Washington198319871 184 712 Democratic
5243 David Orr
(acting mayor) [6]
19871987 Democratic
5344 Eugene Sawyer 1987198917481 12 Democratic
5445 Richard M. Daley 198920115 1222 Democratic 1
5546 Rahm Emanuel 2011201928 Democratic 1
5647 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. [7]

Living mayors

As of 2018, four mayors of Chicago are still living, the oldest of whom is Richard M. Daley. [8] The most recent former mayor to die was Jane Byrne (19791983), on November 14, 2014. The most recently serving mayor to have died, however, was Eugene Sawyer (19871989), on January 19, 2008. [9]

NameMayoral termDate of birth
David Orr November 1987 – December 1987October 4, 1944 (age 75)
Richard M. Daley 1989–2011April 24, 1942 (age 77)
Rahm Emanuel 2011–2019November 29, 1959 (age 59)
Lori Lightfoot 2019presentAugust 4, 1962 (age 57)

See also

Related Research Articles

Rahm Emanuel 55th Mayor of Chicago

Rahm Israel Emanuel is an American politician who served as the 55th mayor of Chicago from 2011 to 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 23rd White House Chief of Staff from 2009 to 2010, and as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Chicago between 2003 and 2009.

William M. Daley American lawyer and former banker

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 currently serves as Vice Chairman at The Bank of New York Mellon.

Chicago City Council Legislative body for Chicago

The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Chicago in Illinois. It consists of 50 aldermen elected from 50 wards to serve four-year terms. The council is gaveled into session regularly, usually monthly, to consider ordinances, orders, and resolutions whose subject matter includes code changes, utilities, taxes, and many other issues. The Chicago City Council Chambers are located in Chicago City Hall, as are the downtown offices of the individual aldermen and staff.

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.

Forrest Edward Claypool is an American politician who has held several positions in the governments of Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois. He was the Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools from July 27, 2015, until December 8, 2017. Previous offices held by Claypool include Superintendent of the Chicago Park District from 1993 to 1998, Chief of Staff to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and President of the Chicago Transit Authority. In 2007–2008, Claypool served as a key member of Barack Obama campaign's media team, in his capacity as a longtime partner of David Axelrod.

Politics in Chicago through most of the 20th century was dominated by the Democratic Party. Organized crime and corruption were persistent concerns in the city.

Miguel del Valle American politician

Miguel del Valle is an American politician and the former City Clerk of Chicago. He was an Illinois State Senator for two decades, representing the 2nd District of Chicago from 1987–2006. Del Valle lost his bid for mayor in Chicago's February 22, 2011 municipal elections, coming in third with 53,953 votes. He will take office as the President of the Chicago Board of Education on June 26, 2019, having been appointed to that position by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Susana Mendoza Illinois politician

Susana A. Mendoza is an American politician. She is the 10th Comptroller of Illinois, serving since December 2016. A member of the Democratic Party, she formerly served as Chicago City Clerk and as an Illinois State Representative, representing the 1st District of Illinois.

Toni Preckwinkle 20th and 21st-century American politician

Toni Lynn Preckwinkle is an American politician and the current Cook County Board President in Cook County, Illinois, United States. She was first elected in November 2010 as President of the Cook County Board, the executive branch of Cook County government, 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.

2011 Chicago mayoral election

The city of Chicago, Illinois held a nonpartisan mayoral election on Tuesday, February 22, 2011. Incumbent Mayor Richard M. Daley, a member of the Democratic Party who had been in office since 1989, did not seek a seventh term as mayor. This was the first election since 1947 in which an incumbent mayor of Chicago did not seek reelection.

Gery Chico American politician and lawyer

Gery J. Chico is an American politician, Chicago lawyer, public official and former Democratic primary candidate for United States Senate.

2015 Chicago mayoral election

An election took place on February 24, 2015, to elect the mayor of Chicago. The election was non-partisan and no candidate received a majority. A runoff election was held between the top two finishers on April 7, 2015, and resulted in the reelection of incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel. The elections were concurrent with the 2015 Chicago aldermanic elections.

Jesús "Chuy" García American politician

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 vote between himself and incumbent Rahm Emanuel. García was defeated in the April 7 runoff by Emanuel.

2019 Chicago mayoral election

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.

Anna M. Valencia City Clerk of Chicago

Anna M. Valencia is an American public official who serves as the City Clerk of Chicago. Valencia was sworn into office on January 25, 2017. She was elected to a full term as City Clerk in February 2019.

Mayoral elections in Chicago Elections since 1837

Chicago has held regularly-scheduled popular elections to select the city's mayor ever since it was incorporated as a city in 1837.

Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus Issue-based group of legislators in the Chicago City Council

The Progressive Reform Caucus of the Chicago City Council is a bloc of aldermen in the Chicago City Council that was formed in 2013. Its stated mission statement is "creating a more just and equal Chicago, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all Chicagoans, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity." It currently has 17 members, out of the council's 50 aldermen.


  1. Pratt, Gregory (May 22, 2018). "Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces key hires for her new administration, some Rahm Emanuel appointees will stay". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2019-05-22 via MSN.
  2. Spielman, Fran (2019-05-17). "Lightfoot shakes up the City Council". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2019-05-22. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  3. "Daley now Chicago mayor 1 day longer than father" Archived 2011-01-01 at the Wayback Machine Associated Press December 26, 2010
  4. "Government, City of Chicago". Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-22. Retrieved 2019-03-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Chicago Mayors, 1837-2007". Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  7. Hardy, Thomas (July 7, 1995). "Gov. Edgar To End City Partisan Votes". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  8. "Chicago Mayors". Chicago Public Library. Archived from the original on 23 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  9. "Mayor Eugene Sawyer Biography". Archived from the original on 2016-05-03. Retrieved 2016-10-08.