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    Chuy Garcia officially jumps into race for mayor

    Chuy Garcia launched into the 2023 race for Chicago mayor Thursday. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]

    U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia officially announced his bid for mayor Thursday after spending weeks mulling a run to lead the city.

    Garcia made the official announcement in front of scores of supporters at a rooftop restaurant on Navy Pier Thursday. 

    “As we emerge from a global pandemic and the racial reckoning that exposed the painful history of inequity in our city, people are still living paycheck to paycheck and folks are living in fear of losing their homes, their livelihood and yes, even their loved ones,” Garcia said during his announcement address. 

    Garcia unsuccessfully challenged former Mayor Rahm Emanuel to head the city in 2015 and lost in the runoff with only 43.7 percent of the vote. 

    “My values and my commitment to build a better, more inclusive Chicago has never wavered,” Garcia said. “As your next mayor, I will bring my decades of leadership and experience to bring us together and to turn our city around.” 

    In announcing his run for the hotly contested office, Garcia painted himself as the candidate with a more down-to-earth perspective. 

    “Chicago needs the mayor that has walked in the shoes of everyday Chicagoans,” Garcia said. 

    The well-liked congressman joins an already packed group of candidates hoping to unseat Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the spring.  

    Cook County Comm. Brandon Johnson (D-1) announced last month that he would run for mayor. Johnson gained the backing of the Chicago Teachers Union before he even announced he was running.  

    And Garcia’s announcement comes one day after the Service Employees International Union Local 73 announced its endorsement of Johnson. 

    “As the mayor of Chicago, it’s going to be nice to actually have someone who believes in workers,” Johnson said outside the Cook County building on Wednesday. 

    During his speech Thursday, Garcia stressed his campaign was focused on public safety, economic instability, investments in education, environmental sustainability and a concerted effort against the impacts of climate change.   

    “Chicagoans are more worried than ever. The rate of carjackings, armed robberies and unsolved homicides is alarming,” Garcia said. “We need a leader who understands that violence prevention and reduction starts in our neighborhoods with investments in mental health, jobs and our youth.” 

    Garcia discussed improving public safety but also improving trust between communities and law enforcement, saying public safety officers should protect people in a manner that earns the respect of all the city’s residents. 

    At least three Chicago alderman are planning to challenge Lightfoot in February. Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) was the first to announce his challenge, followed by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) and Ald. Sophia King (4).  

    Also planning to run for mayor are: state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago), community activist Ja’Mal Green, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas and businessman Willie Wilson. 

    Lightfoot’s campaign issued a statement Thursday saying the mayor has done “the hard work of leading our city through challenging times” and that “career politician Congressman Garcia is prioritizing his own ambitions.”  

    “Mr. Garcia spent months dithering on whether to get in this race, saying publicly he’d only run if Democrats lost the House. Now, a mere 36 hours after voters reelected him to Congress, and as Republicans prepare to use their new slim majority to strip away our rights, Mr. Garcia is abandoning ship and going after a fellow progressive Democrat,” campaign spokeswoman Christina Freundlich wrote in the statement. “That’s not the tough, principled leadership our city needs.” 

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