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Emanuel critic, CPS principal Troy LaRaviere ‘exploring’ mayoral run

Troy LaRaviere | Sun-Times file photo by Max Herman

Ousted Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere, one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s most vociferous critics, is quietly exploring a mayoral run.

LaRaviere, the first to publicly declare interest in unseating Emanuel in 2019, revealed his plans in an online survey he says he sends to people who regularly ask him to run: “I am exploring a mayoral campaign. The goal is to put the Mayor’s Office into the service of all Chicago’s residents and communities. Our city must invest in all of its communities in order for the people in those communities to realize their God-given potential.”

Reached by telephone, LaRaviere said that he isn’t actively soliciting support; someone else posted his link to Facebook.

“I’m not your normal politician, apparently. Everybody’s who’s running isn’t saying it,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m running either, because I haven’t made that decision, but I think that office is a key… to transforming this city into the kind of place that everybody who lives in it can enjoy…And so, if I want to create that kind of city, I have to be honest about the fact that I’m interested.”

The Navy veteran, who hasn’t held public office, said Emanuel “has been in office for 6 years and he still doesn’t have a plan.”

In 2014, as principal of the top-rated Blaine Elementary School, LaRaviere took his first public swing at Emanuel in a scathing salvo published in the Chicago Sun-Times.

CPS abruptly removed him in 2016, eventually accusing LaRaviere of undermining CPS’ testing policies and backing a one-day strike. Officials also censured him for political activity: Cutting a campaign ad for Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders in which he blamed Chicago’s school problems on Emanuel, and backing the campaign of Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who forced the mayor into a runoff.

He won an unusually contentious election in 2016 to head the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, where he’s continued to rail against CPS’ funding decisions.

Emanuel hasn’t formally declared plans to seek a third term but has raised $4 million since 2015 and currently has $1.6 million.

Peter Giangreco, the mayor’s longtime political consultant, refused to comment on LaRaviere.

The mayor was left for dead politically following his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video that triggered demands for his resignation. But Emanuel has waged a frenzied campaign to try to rebuild the shattered trust among African-American voters who elected him in 2011 and in 2015.

Chicago’s nagging homicide rate and the $1.2 billion avalanche of tax increases already imposed to help solve Chicago’s $30 billion pension crisis—with even more on the horizon for CPS — are certain to make a third run an uphill battle.

Garcia has made a case for a 2019 rematch but hasn’t acted. Tuesday he said he’ll decide this fall.

“I can’t speak for Troy,” he said. “I remain grateful that he supported me in my run. But, as public office goes, I’ve been doing it a much longer time than he.”