Mayor of Chicago

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 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, for example, where the vote taken on a matter before the body results in a tie.

Mayor of Chicago
Seal of Chicago, Illinois
Seal of the City of Chicago
Rahm Emanuel, official photo portrait color (cropped)
Rahm Emanuel

since May 16, 2011
StyleThe Honorable
Term length4 years
Inaugural holderWilliam Butler Ogden
SuccessionVice-Mayor of Chicago
WebsiteOffice of the Mayor

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.

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.

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.

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.[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]

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 by GPA Healy, 1855
William B. Ogden was the first mayor of Chicago.
Joseph Medill
Joseph Medill, 21st mayor of Chicago, was the first foreign-born mayor.
Washington h
Harold Washington, 41st mayor of Chicago, was the first African-American mayor.
Richard M. Daley (4655925743 aacdba6297 n) (cropped)
Richard M. Daley, 44th mayor of Chicago, was the longest-serving mayor (22 years).
# Mayor Term start Term end Terms Years   Party
1 William B. Ogden 1837 1838 1 1 Democratic
2 Buckner S. Morris 1838 1839 1 1 Whig
3 Benjamin W. Raymond 1839 1840 1 1 Whig
4 Alexander Loyd 1840 1841 1 1 Democratic
5 Francis C. Sherman 1841 1842 1 1 Democratic
(3) Benjamin W. Raymond 1842 1843 1 1 Whig
6 Augustus Garrett 1843 1844 1 1 Democratic
7 Alson Sherman 1844 1845 1 1 None
(6) Augustus Garrett 1845 1846 1 1 Democratic
8 John P. Chapin 1846 1847 1 1 Whig
9 James Curtiss 1847 1848 1 1 Democratic
10 James H. Woodworth 1848 1850 2 2 None
(9) James Curtiss 1850 1851 1 1 Democratic
11 Walter S. Gurnee 1851 1853 2 2 Democratic
12 Charles McNeill Gray 1853 1854 1 1 Democratic
13 Isaac L. Milliken 1854 1855 1 1 Democratic
14 Levi Boone 1855 1856 1 1 American
15 Thomas Dyer 1856 1857 1 1 Democratic
16 John Wentworth 1857 1858 1 1 Republican
17 John C. Haines 1858 1860 2 2 Democratic
(16) John Wentworth 1860 1861 1 1 Republican
18 Julian S. Rumsey 1861 1862 1 1 Republican
(5) Francis C. Sherman 1862 1865 2 2 Democratic
19 John B. Rice 1865 1869 1 2 Republican
20 Roswell B. Mason 1869 1871 1 2 Citizens
21 Joseph Medill 1871 1873 1 2 Republican (Dry)
Lester L. Bond
(acting mayor pro temp)
1873 1873 14 12 Republican
22 Harvey Doolittle Colvin 1873 1875 1 2 Republican (Wet)
23 Monroe Heath 1876 1879 2 4 Republican
24 Carter Harrison Sr. 1879 1887 4 8 Democratic
25 John A. Roche 1887 1889 1 2 Republican
26 DeWitt C. Cregier 1889 1891 1 2 Democratic
27 Hempstead Washburne 1891 1893 1 2 Republican
(24) Carter Harrison Sr. 1893 1893 14 12 Democratic
George Bell Swift
(acting mayor)
1893 1893 112 16 Republican
28 John P. Hopkins 1893 1895 23 3 Democratic
29 George Bell Swift 1895 1897 1 2 Republican
30 Carter Harrison Jr. 1897 1905 4 8 Democratic
31 Edward F. Dunne 1905 1907 1 2 Democratic
32 Fred A. Busse 1907 1911 1 4 Republican
(30) Carter Harrison Jr. 1911 1915 1 4 Democratic
33 William H. Thompson 1915 1923 2 8 Republican
34 William E. Dever 1923 1927 1 4 Democratic
(33) William H. Thompson 1927 1931 1 4 Republican
35 Anton Cermak 1931 1933 12 2 Democratic
Frank Corr
(acting mayor pro temp)
1933 1933 Democratic
36 Edward J. Kelly 1933 1947 3 12 14 Democratic
37 Martin H. Kennelly 1947 1955 2 8 Democratic
38 Richard J. Daley 1955 1976 5 38 20 23 Democratic
39 Michael A. Bilandic 1976 1979 58 2 13 Democratic
40 Jane Byrne 1979 1983 1 4 Democratic
41 Harold Washington 1983 1987 1 18 4 712 Democratic
David Orr
(acting mayor)[4]
1987 1987 Partial Democratic
42 Eugene Sawyer 1987 1989 58 1 12 Democratic
43 Richard M. Daley 1989 2011 5 12 22 Democratic1
44 Rahm Emanuel 2011 Incumbent 1 910 7 23 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.[5]

Living mayors

As of 2018, three mayors of Chicago are still living, the oldest of whom is Richard M. Daley.[6] 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.[7]

Name Mayoral term Date of birth
David Orr November 1987 – December 1987 October 4, 1944 (age 74)
Richard M. Daley 1989–2011 April 24, 1942 (age 76)
Rahm Emanuel 2011–present November 29, 1959 (age 59)

See also


  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.
  4. ^ "Chicago Mayors, 1837-2007". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  5. ^ Hardy, Thomas (July 7, 1995). "Gov. Edgar To End City Partisan Votes". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ "Chicago Mayors". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Mayor Eugene Sawyer Biography". Retrieved 2016-10-08.


External links

1856 Illinois gubernatorial election

The Illinois gubernatorial election of 1856 was the eleventh election for this office. Democratic governor Joel Aldrich Matteson did not seek re-election. Former Democratic Congressman William Henry Bissell was nominated by the newly formed Republican Party at the Bloomington Convention. Former Whig Mayor of Chicago Buckner S. Morris was nominated on the Know-Nothing Party ticket. This was the first election of a Republican governor in Illinois history.

At this time in Illinois history the Lieutenant Governor was elected on a separate ballot from the governor. This would remain the case until the adoption of the 1970 constitution.

1893 Chicago mayoral election

In the Chicago mayoral election of 1893 Democrat Carter Harrison Sr. won election to a (then-record) fifth non-consecutive term as mayor of Chicago.

Harrison won a majority of the vote, defeating Republican Samuel W. Allerton by a 10 point margin, as well as former mayor DeWitt Clinton Cregier (who ran under the "United Citizens " banner, but failed to receive a significant share of the vote).

1895 Chicago mayoral election

In the Chicago mayoral election of 1895 Republican George Bell Swift was elected, winning a majority of the vote and defeating Democratic nominee Frank Wenter by more than a twenty point margin.

Swift had previously served as acting mayor of Chicago in 1893, following the assassination of Carter Harrison Sr.

1931 Chicago mayoral election

The 1931 Chicago mayoral election was held to elect the Mayor of Chicago. Former Cook County Board of Commissioners President Anton Cermak defeated incumbent mayor William Hale Thompson, who remains to date the last Republican mayor of Chicago.

Anton Cermak

Anton Joseph Cermak (Czech: Antonín Josef Čermák, pronounced [ˈantoɲiːn ˈjozɛf ˈtʃɛrmaːk]; May 9, 1873 – March 6, 1933) was an American politician who served as the 34th mayor of Chicago, Illinois from April 7, 1931 until his death on March 6, 1933 from complications of an assassination attempt 23 days earlier.

Consulate-General of Pakistan, Chicago

The Consulate-General of Pakistan in Chicago is a diplomatic mission of Pakistan in Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is located in Suite 728 in 333 North Michigan in the Chicago Loop. Its jurisdiction includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan and Wisconsin.The consulate opened in January 2005. An inaugural ceremony was held on Saturday January 22, with Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago, inaugurating the consulate. During the ceremony, Jehangir Karamat, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, made the opening remarks.Consul General Mr. Javed Ahmed Umrani assumed charge in September 2018. He was preceded by Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, who served from September 2013 to August 2018. He is preceded by Mr. Zaheer Pervaiz Khan.

David Orr

David Duvall Orr (born October 4, 1944) is an American Democratic politician who served as the County Clerk of Cook County from December 1990 until December 2018. Orr was an Alderman of the 49th Ward in Chicago, Illinois from February 23, 1979 until December 10, 1990. From November 25, 1987 until December 2, 1987, Orr served as Mayor of Chicago after the death of Harold Washington on November 25, 1987.Orr opted not to run for an eighth term. Karen Yarbrough, the then-Cook County Recorder of Deeds, succeeded Orr as the Clerk.

Edward Joseph Kelly

Edward Joseph Kelly (May 1, 1876 – October 20, 1950) was an American politician who served as the 36th Mayor of Chicago from April 17, 1933 until April 15, 1947.

Prior to being mayor of Chicago, Kelly served as chief engineer of the Chicago Sanitary District during the 1920s.

Kelly was a Democrat.

Eugene Sawyer

Eugene Sawyer Jr. (September 3, 1934 – January 19, 2008) was an American businessman, educator, and politician. Sawyer was selected as the 42nd Mayor of Chicago, Illinois after the sudden death of then–mayor Harold Washington, serving from December 2, 1987 until April 24, 1989. Sawyer was the second African-American to serve as mayor of Chicago. Sawyer was a member of the Democratic Party.

Fred A. Busse

Fred A. Busse (March 3, 1866 – July 9, 1914) was the mayor of Chicago, in the U.S. state of Illinois, from 1907 to 1911.

Gery Chico

Gery J. Chico ( GERR-ee CHEE-koh; born August 24, 1956) is an American politician, Chicago lawyer, public official, former Democratic primary candidate for United States Senate, and former candidate for Mayor of Chicago. Chico served as the Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley from 1992 to 1995, and board president of the Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001. He was named Outstanding School Board President by the Illinois State Board of Education in 1997. From 2007 to 2010, he was board president of the Chicago Park District, and in 2010 he was board president of the City Colleges of Chicago. On June 7, 2011, Chico was named Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Government of Chicago

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.

The City Council is the legislative branch and is made up of 50 aldermen, one elected from each ward in the city. The council takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions and approves the city budget. Government priorities and activities are established in a budget ordinance usually adopted each November.

Harold Washington

Harold Lee Washington (April 15, 1922 – November 25, 1987) was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Illinois who was elected as the 41st Mayor of Chicago. Washington was noted as the first African–American to be elected as mayor of Chicago in February 1983. Washington served as mayor from April 29, 1983 until his death on November 25, 1987. Washington was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1981 until beginning his tenure as Chicago mayor in April 1983, representing the Illinois first district. Prior to his time as a member of the House of Representatives, Washington previously served in the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives from 1965 until 1976.

Jane Byrne

Jane Margaret Byrne (née Burke; May 24, 1933 – November 14, 2014) was an American politician who served as the 40th 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 Richard J. Daley's cabinet.

Martin H. Kennelly

Martin Henry Kennelly (August 11, 1887 – November 29, 1961) was an American politician and businessman. He served as the 37th Mayor of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois from April 15, 1947 until April 20, 1955. Kennelly was a member of the Democratic Party. According to biographer Peter O'Malley, he was chosen as mayor by a scandal-burdened Democratic machine that needed a reformer on top of the ticket. Kennelly was a wealthy businessman and civic leader, active in irish and Catholic circles. As a long-time opponent of machine politics he accepted the nomination on condition the machine would not pressure him for patronage and that he did not have to play a leadership role in the party. This gave him a non-partisan image that satisfied the reform element. As mayor he avoided partisanship and concentrated on building infrastructure and upgrading the city bureaucracy. He worked to extend civil service; he reorganized inefficient departments. The city took ownership of the mass transit system. He obtained federal aid for slum clearance and public housing projects and for new expressways construction. At his death, Mayor Richard J. Daley, the party leader who defeated Kennelly in a bitter primary battle in 1955, called him, "a great Chicagoan who loved his city" and ordered City hall flags placed at half staff.

Michael Anthony Bilandic

Michael Anthony Bilandic (February 13, 1923 – January 15, 2002) was an American Illinois politician who served as the 39th 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 (Bridgeport neighborhood) from June 1969 until he began his tenure as mayor in December 1976.

Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Israel Emanuel (; born November 29, 1959) is an American politician, who is the 44th and current mayor of Chicago. A member of the Democratic Party, Emanuel was elected in 2011, and reelected on April 7, 2015.

Born in Chicago, Emanuel is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Northwestern University. Working early in his career in Democratic politics, Emanuel was appointed as director of the finance committee for Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. In 1993, he joined the Clinton administration, where he served as the assistant to the president for political affairs and as the senior advisor to the president for policy and strategy before resigning, in 1998. Beginning a career in finance, Emanuel worked at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella & Co. from 1998 for 2½ years, and served on the board of directors of Freddie Mac.

In 2002, Emanuel ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives vacated by Rod Blagojevich, who resigned to become governor of Illinois. Emanuel won the first of three terms representing Illinois's 5th congressional district, a seat he held from 2003 to 2009. During his tenure in the House, Emanuel held two Democratic leadership positions, serving as the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2005 to 2007, and as the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, from 2007 to 2009. After the 2008 presidential election, President Barack Obama appointed Emanuel to serve as White House chief of staff.

In October 2010, Emanuel resigned as chief of staff to run as a candidate in Chicago's 2011 mayoral election. Because of questions over his eligibility to run for mayor, Emanuel's candidacy was initially rejected by the Illinois First District Appellate Court, though he was later found eligible to run in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of Illinois. Emanuel won with 55% of the vote over five other candidates in the non-partisan mayoral election, succeeding 22-year incumbent Richard M. Daley. Although Emanuel failed to obtain an absolute majority in the February 2015 mayoral election, he defeated Cook County board commissioner Jesús "Chuy" García in the subsequent run-off election in April.

In late 2015, Emanuel's approval rating plunged to "the low 20s" in response to a series of scandals, most directly the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, the city's subsequent attempts to withhold a video of the shooting, and the lack of an investigation into the matter. In early December 2015, the federal Justice Department announced an investigation into the operations of the Chicago Police Department, a move which Emanuel initially opposed. At one point, half of Chicagoans favored Emanuel's resignation, with highly critical evaluations of the mayor appearing in such sources as The New York Times and The New Yorker, and coming from such figures as the Reverend Al Sharpton.By July 2017, Emanuel was said to have raised $1.6 million towards a potential run for a third term in the 2019 election, and although his approval ratings had not recovered to 50%, he had made steady progress in recovering his political support. He initially announced in October 2017 he planned to run for a third term, but on September 4, 2018, Emanuel reversed this decision and stated he would not seek a third term due to personal obligations.

Richard J. Daley

Richard Joseph Daley (May 15, 1902 – December 20, 1976) was an American politician who served as the 38th 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.

Willie Wilson (businessman)

Willie L. Wilson (born June 16, 1948) is an American businessman and politician from Chicago, Illinois who has run both for Mayor of Chicago and President of the United States. He has owned and operated several different McDonald's restaurant franchises and owns Omar Medical Supplies, which imports and distributes latex gloves and other medical and safety supplies and equipment. He also produces the nationally syndicated gospel music television program Singsation, which won a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award in 2012.

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