Long the subject of electoral speculation, Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) formally announced his candidacy for mayor Saturday morning.
In his prepared remarks at a news conference, Fioretti interwove his platform with strikes against Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“Our current mayor promised so much, and like many of us, I hoped he would deliver. But our schools are being gutted, our streets are not safer and so many are missing out on economic opportunities and jobs,” the alderman said.
“Because if we have a mayor who ignores some of our problems, we are left with a mayor who is letting all of us down.”
Fioretti’s focus will be on education, economy and job creation, and he plans a combination strategy of the three – a “holistic” approach – to crime.
After he was introduced by Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and his longtime partner Nicki Pecori, Fioretti called for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour for employees of companies making more than $50 million a year.
A commuter tax of 1 percent on the 600,000 people who come into the city to work every day would generate $300 million a year, a revenue stream Fioretti said was a way to pay for some city services without burdening Chicago residents further.
Fioretti promised to listen to teachers and make CPS class sizes smaller while striking against school closures that were “against the will of our citizens.”
In addition to hiring more police officers, Fioretti’s crime strategy involves improving job creation, education and treating “mental health like a priority rather than a part of the budget to slash,” he told the crowd of 100 at the East West University’s gym, 829 S. Wabash Ave.
Earlier Saturday, Fioretti announced his candidacy on his website and posted a video criticizing Emanuel for his record on crime and education.
Fioretti, who is nearing the end of his second aldermanic term, is a practicing civil rights attorney with the firm Orum & Roth.
A Chicago native, Fioretti grew up near Pullman and attended the University of Illinois.
A noted Emanuel antagonist on the City Council, Fioretti is a member of the progressive caucus alongside Waguespack and six other aldermen. He announced a run for mayor against Emanuel in 2010, but a bout with tonsil cancer forced him to give up the campaign and focus on re-election to his aldermanic seat.
Fioretti was re-elected as alderman in 2011, but the 2012 passage of a ward-remapping ordinance eliminated the 2nd Ward that elected him, moving it to the North Side and putting his West Loop home address within the new 28th Ward.
Michael Kolenc, Fioretti’s campaign spokesman, told reporters the alderman was expected to meet with pastors at his campaign headquarters at 1043 W. Madison St. following his announcement Saturday. Later in the day, he was to meet with his finance committee.
Money is sure to play a significant role as Fioretti takes on an incumbent mayor with more than 8.3 million already socked away. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has expressed interest in the mayoral race, though she has yet to commit to a campaign.
Kolenc said Fioretti has hired campaign consultants on polling, TV, research and digital. Marcus Ferrell was hired as campaign manager.
“My better half Nicki and I know that we have a long campaign ahead of us,” Fioretti told the crowd.
“This might be a bit of breaking news for some of you, but Chicago-style politics is sometimes a full contact sport.”
Emanuel’s campaign wasted no time in responding to the alderman’s campaign.
“Time and again, Alderman Fioretti has shown no backbone for making tough choices and little respect for Chicago taxpayers’ pocketbooks,” said Steve Mayberry, Emanuel’s campaign spokesman.
“Chicago can’t tax itself out of its problems. Chicago needs, and has, a strong leader who has shown that he is willing to make tough decisions,” Mayberry said.
The audience at Fioretti’s announcement included many constituents and personal friends of the alderman’s who said they were excited for change but aware of the work ahead.
Donna Valente and LouAnn Pretto went to St. Anthony’s Grammar School with the alderman and have kept in touch for years, even though they don’t live in his ward.
“I’m thrilled he’s going to run,” Valente said.
“It’s going to be a real struggle,” said Pretto. “We’re going to be optimistic. Barack Obama came out of nowhere!”