An Illinois state representative whose district includes all of North Riverside and a good portion of Brookfield north of Washington Avenue is considering entering an already crowded race for Chicago mayor and he believes he could get the backing of most Chicago West Side elected officials.
State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-8th) said during an interview earlier this month that he has volunteers circulating petitions and that an exploratory committee has formed to vet the feasibility of a possible mayoral run.
“It appears we’ve been getting a great response,” Ford said at the time, adding that he could make an official announcement within a week. In the meantime, he’s been hosting exploratory meetings across Chicago.
Ford said his flirtation with running for mayor was “sparked” after Westside Black Elected Officials, an organization comprising African-American lawmakers from across the West Side, voted unanimously to support his exploratory committee.
Ford said U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7th) had been at the top of the organization’s list as the person they would back to run for mayor, but Davis declined the offer, clearing the way for Ford — the group’s second choice.
The longtime state legislator, who was first elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2007, said he thinks “it’s important that the black community has someone willing to raise the issues for black people and bring the city together. I’m not afraid to talk about the struggles of black people in a way that lets white people know we’re in it together and that the black struggle is their struggle, and the brown struggle is our struggle.”
When asked if he thinks his 2014 misdemeanor income tax charge would be a problem, Ford said he hopes to leverage the issue in order to raise awareness of criminal justice reform.
In 2012, Ford, who owns a real estate company, was indicted on 17 felony bank fraud and false information charges after allegations that he submitted misleading information in order to obtain an additional $500,000 on a line of credit.
Two years later, prosecutors dropped all 17 felony counts in exchange for the lawmaker pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
“I’m looking forward to making sure that people understand I have knowledge and experience with the criminal justice system,” Ford said.
“I was wrongfully charged, and 17 counts of bank fraud were dropped,” he said. “I think this is the perfect way to bring criminal justice reform front and center. It’s one of the [top] issues in the state and the country, but for some reason it doesn’t get the attention that’s needed.”
The race for mayor has only widened ever since Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last month that he would not seek re-election to a third term.
As of the end of September, there were 17 declared candidates in the mayoral race, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former Chicago Police Commissioner Garry McCarthy, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot.
The filing deadline for the Feb. 26, 2019 mayoral election is Nov. 26.