Mayor of Chicago

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Mayor of Chicago
Chicago city seal.png
Seal of the City of Chicago
Rahm Emanuel, official photo portrait color (cropped).jpg
Rahm Emanuel

since May 16, 2011
Style The Honorable
Term length 4 years
Inaugural holder William Butler Ogden
SuccessionVice-Mayor of Chicago
Website Office of the Mayor

The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive of 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.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.


During sessions of the city council, the mayor serves as the presiding officer. The mayor submits proposals and recommendations to the city council of his own accord and on behalf of city departments. 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 city 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.

Chicago Fire Department

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) provides both fire suppression 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 1835, the Chicago Police Department is one of the oldest modern police forces in the world. The United States Department of Justice has criticized the department for its poor training, lack of oversight and routine use of excessive force.

Richard M. Daley Illinois politician

Richard Michael Daley is an American politician, lawyer, and author 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 (currently Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), since May 2015) 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. 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 less than 28 months remaining in the mayoral term or less than 130 days before the next general municipal election, then the acting mayor serves as mayor until the mayoral term expires.

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. The first woman to hold the office was Jane Byrne. The first black mayor was Harold Washington. 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. In September 2010, Daley announced that he would not seek reelection for a seventh term as mayor. On December 26, 2010, Daley became Chicago's longest-serving mayor, surpassing his father's record. [1] Rahm Emanuel is the current mayor, having won the 2011 election with 55% of the vote to 25% for his closest opponent, Gery Chico. Emanuel was sworn in on May 16, 2011. In an April 7, 2015 run-off election Emanuel won re-election with 55.7 percent to challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia's 44.3 percent. [2]

Richard J. Daley American politician

Richard Joseph Daley was an American politician who served as the 48th Mayor of Chicago for a total of 21 years beginning on April 20, 1955, until his death on December 20, 1976. Daley was the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee for 23 years, holding both positions until his death in office in 1976. Daley was Chicago's third consecutive mayor from the working-class, heavily Irish American Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, where he lived his entire life. Daley is remembered for doing much to avoid the declines that some other "rust belt" cities—like Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit—experienced during the same period. He had a strong base of support in Chicago's Irish Catholic community, and he was treated by national politicians such as Lyndon B. Johnson as a pre-eminent Irish American, with special connections to the Kennedy family. Daley played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and of Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Daley is the father of Richard M. Daley, also a former mayor of Chicago, William M. Daley, a former United States Secretary of Commerce, and John P. Daley, a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. While many members of Daley's administration were charged with corruption and convicted, Daley himself was never charged with corruption.

Jane Byrne American politician; Mayor of Chicago, Illinois

Jane Margaret Byrne was an American politician who 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 Chicago, the second largest city in the United States at the time. She was also the first woman to be elected mayor of a major city in the United States. 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.

Harold Washington American politician

Harold Lee Washington was an American lawyer and politician who was the 51st Mayor of Chicago. Washington became the first African–American to be elected as the city's mayor in February 1983. He served as mayor from April 29, 1983 until his death on November 25, 1987. Earlier, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1983, representing Illinois' first district. Washington had previously served in the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives from 1965 until 1976.

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. Before the mayor's office became officially nonpartisan, the mayor was the de facto leader of the city's Democratic Party, and had great influence over the ward organizations. [3]

List of mayors

The mayoral term in Chicago was one year from 1837 through 1863, when it was increased to two years. In 1907, it was lengthened to four years, the present duration. 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 lengthened. 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, Mayor-elect of Chicago, will be the first black woman, and LGBTQ mayor of Chicago. Lori Lightfoot at MacLean Center (10a).png
Lori Lightfoot, Mayor-elect of Chicago, will be the first black woman, and LGBTQ mayor of Chicago.

45 men and one woman (Jane Byrne, 1979-1983), have held the office. Richard M. Daley (1989-2011) was the longest serving mayor, and Harold Washington (1983-1987) was the first African American mayor. The first Irish Catholic mayor was John Patrick Hopkins (1893-1895), and Rahm Emanuel (2011-2019) is the only Jewish person to have served as mayor. Current mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot (upon entering office in May 2019) will become the city's first openly gay mayor.

[4] #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
(acting mayor pro temp)
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) [5]
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 Mayor-elect 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. [6]

Living mayors

As of 2018, four mayors of Chicago are still living, the oldest of whom is Richard M. Daley. [7] 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. [8]

NameMayoral termDate of birth
David Orr November 1987 – December 1987October 4, 1944 (age 74)
Richard M. Daley 1989–2011April 24, 1942 (age 76)
Rahm Emanuel2011–2019November 29, 1959 (age 59)
Lori LightfootMayor-electAugust 6, 1962 (age 56)

See also

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Mayoral elections in Chicago

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  1. "Daley now Chicago mayor 1 day longer than father" Associated Press December 26, 2010
  2. Chicago Tribune, April 7, 2015
  3. "Government, City of Chicago". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  5. "Chicago Mayors, 1837-2007". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  6. Hardy, Thomas (July 7, 1995). "Gov. Edgar To End City Partisan Votes". Chicago Tribune.
  7. "Chicago Mayors". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  8. "Mayor Eugene Sawyer Biography" . Retrieved 2016-10-08.