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. During meetings of the City Council, the Mayor serves as the presiding officer of the City Council. The Mayor submits proposals and recommendations to the City Council of his own accord and on behalf of city departments. Although the presiding officer of the City Council, the Mayor is not allowed to vote on issues except in certain instances, for example, where the vote taken on a matter before the body results in a tie.
|Mayor of Chicago|
Seal of the City of Chicago
since May 16, 2011
|Term length||4 years, no term limits|
|Inaugural holder||William Butler Ogden|
|Succession||Vice-Mayor of Chicago|
|Website||Office of the Mayor|
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.
The Chicago City Clerk and City Treasurer 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 (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 within city limits. The first and only 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. 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.
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.
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.
|#||Mayor||Term start||Term end||Terms|
|1||William B. Ogden||1837||1838||1||Democratic|
|2||Buckner S. Morris||1838||1839||1||Whig|
|3||Benjamin W. Raymond||1839||1840||1||Whig|
|5||Francis C. Sherman||1841||1842||1||Democratic|
|(3)||Benjamin W. Raymond||1842||1843||1||Whig|
|8||John P. Chapin||1846||1847||1||Whig|
|10||James H. Woodworth||1848||1850||2||None|
|11||Walter S. Gurnee||1851||1853||2||Democratic|
|12||Charles McNeill Gray||1853||1854||1||Democratic|
|13||Isaac L. Milliken||1854||1855||1||Democratic|
|17||John C. Haines||1858||1860||2||Democratic|
|18||Julian S. Rumsey||1861||1862||1||Republican|
|(5)||Francis C. Sherman||1862||1865||1||Democratic|
|19||John B. Rice||1865||1869||1||Republican|
|20||Roswell B. Mason||1869||1871||1⁄2||Citizens|
|21||Joseph Medill||1871||1873||1⁄2||Republican (Dry)|
|22||Harvey Doolittle Colvin||1873||1875||1⁄2||Republican (Wet)|
|24||Carter Harrison Sr.||1879||1887||2||Democratic|
|25||John A. Roche||1887||1889||1⁄2||Republican|
|26||DeWitt C. Cregier||1889||1891||1⁄2||Democratic|
|(24)||Carter Harrison Sr. †||1893||1893||Partial||Democratic|
|28||John P. Hopkins||1893||1895||1⁄2||Democratic|
|29||George Bell Swift||1895||1897||1⁄2||Republican|
|30||Carter Harrison Jr.||1897||1905||2||Democratic|
|31||Edward F. Dunne||1905||1907||1⁄2||Democratic|
|32||Fred A. Busse||1907||1911||1||Republican|
|(30)||Carter Harrison Jr.||1911||1915||1||Democratic|
|33||William H. Thompson||1915||1923||2||Republican|
|34||William E. Dever||1923||1927||1||Democratic|
|(33)||William H. Thompson||1927||1931||1||Republican|
|35||Anton Cermak †||1931||1933||Partial||Democratic|
|36||Edward J. Kelly||1933||1947||3 1⁄2||Democratic|
|37||Martin H. Kennelly||1947||1955||2||Democratic|
|38||Richard J. Daley †||1955||1976||5 1⁄2||Democratic|
|39||Michael A. Bilandic||1976||1979||1||Democratic|
|41||Harold Washington †||1983||1987||1||Democratic|
|44||Richard M. Daley||1989||2011||5 1⁄2||Democratic1|
|45||Rahm Emanuel||2011||Incumbent||1 1⁄2||Democratic1|
† 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, both Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel are known to be Democrats.
As of 2018, three mayors of Chicago were still living, the older of whom was Richard M. Daley. The most recent former mayor to die was Jane Byrne (1979–1983), on November 14, 2014. The most recently serving mayor to have died, however, was Eugene Sawyer (1987–1989), on January 19, 2008.
|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–present||November 29, 1959|