Video: Alderwoman and candidate for Chicago mayor, Sophia King joins “Chicago Tonight.” (Produced by Andrea Flores)
Hyde Park Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward) announced Wednesday she will run for mayor, promising to lead Chicago through collaboration — not confrontation — in an attempt to draw a clear distinction with Mayor Lori Lightfoot who has touted her combative approach while in office.
King, the chair of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, is the first woman to challenge Lightfoot’s bid to become the first woman to be re-elected as Chicago mayor.
“I love this city. We need a Chicago that’s safer AND stronger. Let’s put an end to the false choices,” King said. “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.”
Violent crime is “issue No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3,” King said.
King was appointed to the City Council in April 2016 by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel to replace former Ald. Will Burns. King won a special election in December 2016 with the endorsement of former President Barack Obama, a longtime friend, and was re-elected in 2019 with 66% of the vote.
The Hyde Park resident is the fourth candidate from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to challenge Lightfoot, joining state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago), activist Ja’Mal Green and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward).
Also in the race are businessman and philanthropist Willie Wilson, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) and Chicago Police Officer Frederick Collins.
In response to King's announcement, Lightfoot's campaign released a statement from Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward), the chair of the City Council's Black Caucus that did not mention either King or Lightfoot by name but praised the mayor's commitment to Black Chicago.
“While everyone has the right to run, with so many Black candidates in the race and more expected to enter, we run the risk of losing it all," Ervin said. "As a community, it behooves us to come together and figure this out or end up walking away with nothing."
King’s announcement touts her efforts to transform the former Michael Reese hospital into a new Chicago neighborhood. Bronzeville Lakefront will include 4,800 new homes, offices, research facilities and stores as part of a $4 billion redevelopment.
King credits her leadership with avoiding the polarizing, bitter debates that characterized other megadevelopments, including Lincoln Yards, by requiring the developer to reach a community benefits agreement to provide affordable housing and hire firms owned by Black and Latino Chicagoans.
King, whose ward includes not only Hyde Park but also parts of downtown, the South Loop, Douglas, Kenwood, Oakland and Grand Boulevard, also spearheaded the push to rename Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, a Haitian immigrant who was the first non-native settler of the Chicago area. Lightfoot opposed that effort, but was forced to compromise.
In 2019, King pushed for Congress Parkway to be renamed Ida B. Wells Drive to honor the civil rights icon and journalist.
Lightfoot and King clashed over the alderperson’s effort to require museums to get special permission from city officials before opening in residential neighborhoods. King ultimately dropped the proposal.
King was the only member of the City Council to recuse herself from the vote to approve Bally’s plan to build a casino in River North. King said her husband, DJ Alan King, a founder of The Chosen Few crew that puts on the annual picnic and music festival, had done work for a law firm involved in the deal.
Note: This story was originally published Aug. 10. It has been updated to include our “Chicago Tonight” conversation.