King, who represents parts of downtown and Hyde Park, is a former school administrator and community volunteer who was appointed 4th Ward alderman by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“I love this city. We need a chicago mayor that’s safer and stronger. Let’s put an end to the false choices,” King said in a video announcement. “Because we can have safety and justice. Compassion and accountability. We can revitalize neighborhoods and renew downtown. We can educate our young people. We can build our city and build equity. I am running for Mayor because we need more collaboration, not more confrontation, and we can go further together.”

Other contenders include state Rep. Kam Buckner, businessman Willie Wilson, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez, South Side Ald. Roderick Sawyer, and community activist Ja’Mal Green. The mayoral election takes place in February.

King’s candidacy poses potential hurdles for Lightfoot, who will no longer be the sole woman in the field and could further divide the African American vote. As City Council progressive caucus chair, King could also challenge Lightfoot for lakefront liberals and progressive votes, which was the mayor’s original base of support in 2019 though they have generally soured on her leadership.

In her time on the City Council, King is best known citywide for the renaming of a pair of high-profile streets.

She unsuccessfully led a push to rechristen downtown’s Balbo Drive in honor of Ida B. Wells, the African-American journalist who worked to expose lynchings and pushed for women’s voting rights. Italian-Americans objected to renaming Balbo, a pilot who flew from Rome to Chicago in 1933 for the Century of Progress Exposition and who was an ally of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini. As a compromise, aldermen renamed Congress Parkway downtown for Wells.

King also worked with Ald. David Moore to rename Lake Shore Drive to honor Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, the Black founder of Chicago, in 2021. Lightfoot vigorously objected to the plan and pushed several efforts to rename something other than Lake Shore in honor of DuSable but she got behind a compromise renaming the iconic road “Jean Bapitiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive” rather than risk taking a total loss in the 50-member council.

King, a friend of former President Barack Obama, also helped push a minimum wage increase to $15 in 2019. Most recently, King has raised questions about the terms of an agreement to keep Lollapalooza in Grant Park for at least the next 10 years. The lakefront park is partly in King’s ward.

As a member of City Council, King has had an up and down relationship with Lightfoot. In July 2020, after the Tribune reported that Lightfoot would be removing the Columbus statue from Grant Park, King texted the mayor, “Is it true the Columbus statue is coming down?” according to messages released by the mayor’s office.

Lightfoot did not text back, according to the mayor’s office release. The next morning, King followed up with a text saying, “I am definitely a stakeholder in my ward Mayor – a conversation with me is definitely warranted.”

Lightfoot responded that she was happy to meet. “I appreciate what you are saying,” Lightfoot said.

In March 2021, Lightfoot called a proposal King made to restrict neighborhood museums, “highly problematic.”

“Highly problematic? I came to you. Wow,” King texted the mayor, with no texted response.

In September 2020, King emailed police leaders and City Hall officials to complain about crime going up in her ward and a shortage of police resources. King noted that officers from her ward were being deployed to the central business district downtown and raised concern about what it would mean for her residents.

“I understand the importance of the (CBD) (which I have the 2nd largest part of as well),” King said. “However, I think there is a better approach than deploying officers out of a district where shootings are happening like this while waiting for looting to happen. I cannot consciously watch this happen without bringing thisto your attention.”

King’s ward, she said, is one of the top property tax revenue producers in the city, “and most comes from the south side.”

“I shouldn’t have to mention this but if we are being pragmatic. My constituents deserve the same protection and sense of security,” King wrote. “Folks are talking about leaving every day.”

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