Video: Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) joins “Chicago Tonight” to discuss his run for mayor and his criticisms of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. (Produced by Evan Garcia)
Fifth floor or bust.
Ald. Raymond Lopez said during an interview with “Chicago Tonight” on Thursday that he is determined to make history by becoming the first member of the Chicago City Council elected mayor and vowed he would not reverse course and run for reelection instead.
Lopez, who announced his bid for mayor on Wednesday, said he is “all in” on his bid to oust Mayor Lori Lightfoot from her 5th floor suite of offices — and will give up his seat on the City Council representing Brighton Park, Back of the Yards and Gage Park and West Englewood.
“I believe that right now, the things that I have done in my ward, the leadership I have shown in my communities, needs to be an example for which we move the city forward,” Lopez said. “I am all in as it comes to leading this city and providing hope for those who feel we are at the cusp, or at the brink.”
Lopez said he would likely endorse a candidate in the race to replace him and vowed that residents of the 15th Ward would see no drop off in city services while he juggles his mayoral campaign with his duties as a City Council member.
Lopez, first elected to represent the 15th Ward on the Chicago City Council in 2015, has been one of Lightfoot’s most frequent critics, blasting her approach to public safety, the COVID-19 pandemic and protections for undocumented immigrants.
While Lightfoot and Lopez have little in common on the issues facing Chicago, the two politicians share an ability to make enemies across the political spectrum.
“This election is not about personalities,” Lopez said.
Lopez stood by his opposition to Lightfoot’s plan to permanently ban Chicago police from cooperating with federal immigration agents in all cases, saying that while Chicago should be a welcoming city, it should not offer “safe haven for those who do not love our city and love our country.”
“There are some undocumented, relatively a small amount, who are committed to being a part of the problem in our city, and they should not be given the same refuge as those who come here, like my great-grandfather, in pursuit of a better life and trying to build an American dream for themselves.”
Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, according to several studies of federal and state crime rates.
Lopez’s campaign has so far put public safety front and center as Chicago officials struggle to tamp down a surge in violent crime that began during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to abate.
Lopez has yet to offer a detailed public safety platform but said Chicago’s crime problem starts with a lack of leadership and again said he would immediately terminate Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, who has been in office for two years.
A new superintendent should come from within the department’s ranks and focus on holding those who are “magnets of violence” accountable, Lopez said, adding that he would move “quickly” to implement the consent decree that requires the Chicago Police Department to implement a series of reforms in an effort to restore the department’s “legitimacy.”
Lopez would be Chicago’s first Latino mayor if elected in 2023. A former skycap for Southwest Airlines, Lopez often appears in virtual meetings accompanied by his dogs and frequently advocates for the city’s shelter. He and his husband, Hugo, live in Brighton Park.
Lightfoot has not yet announced whether she will seek a second term in office, although she has ramped up fundraising and hired additional staff for her campaign. Philanthropist and businessman Willie Wilson is expected to announce Monday whether he will run for mayor, and Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara has said he plans to run for mayor.