Friend of the Obamas, Ald. Sophia King hopes to defuse tension in city

King said she would Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, give “burned-out, overscheduled and underappreciated” officers more time off and create incentives needed to fill more than 1,400 sworn police vacancies.

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In the video announcing her campaign for mayor, 4th Ward Ald. Sophia King targeted what she believes are Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s most glaring weaknesses: violent crime and the perception of it, as well as the mayor’s combative, dictatorial style of governing.

“There’s a lot of tension in this city,” King told the Sun-Times. “I provide leadership that would bring collaboration. People are looking for that kind of collaboration. They’re looking for us to do more and better together.”

The video opens with King walking past a site at 43rd Street and Berkeley Avenue, where a shooting took place just days after she was sworn in six years ago.

It features endorsements from former Chicago Police Department Cmdr. Crystal King-Smith (no relation), retired educator and Hyde Park resident Bill Gerstein, and former television news anchor Robin Robinson, who served the CPD in a community outreach job under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel before exiting under Lightfoot.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) has served on the Chicago City Council since 2016.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) has served on the Chicago City Council since 2016, when she was appointed by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fill the seat after Ald. Will Burns retired.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

King described violent crime as “issue No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3” with Chicago voters.

“Violence is not an abstract problem to me. I have seen the pain it causes way too many times. There’s no question about it. We have to hold the people who commit violent crimes accountable, and we have to hold our leaders accountable, too,” King says in the video.

She told the Sun-Times she will start attacking the problem by firing Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, giving “burned-out, overscheduled and underappreciated” police officers more time off and authorizing incentives needed to fill more than 1,400 sworn police vacancies.

She also said she would take a serious look at restoring some or all of the more than 600 police vacancies that Lightfoot eliminated to help balance the city’s 2021 budget, and she would return more officers to neighborhoods.

“They should be on their beats, building relationships,” she said. “One of the biggest things is just to humanize and uplift our police again.”

As for Chicago’s $33 billion pension crisis, King said there are “progressive ways that we can get sustainable and progressive income” to stave off bankruptcy in the four city employee pension funds.

Appointed by Emanuel after the 2016 resignation of Ald. Will Burns, King has close ties to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the vanquished mayoral challenger who chairs the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization.

King’s husband, Alan, a house music DJ and Chicago attorney, is a basketball-playing buddy of former President Barack Obama.

That is, in part, how she came to be appointed by Emanuel, who was Obama’s first White House chief of staff. She was endorsed in that race by both Obama and Preckwinkle.

After overcoming some resistance on the Chicago City Council, Ald. Sophia King (4th) was able to celebrate the renaming of Lake Shore Drive.

After overcoming some resistance on the Chicago City Council, 4th Ward Ald. Sophia King was able to celebrate the renaming of Lake Shore Drive in October 2021.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Before joining the City Council, King spent decades serving her community. She founded Harriet’s Daughters, a nonprofit that works on wealth creation opportunities for African American neighborhoods. She also helped found Ariel Community Academy, a CPS school in Kenwood.

In the City Council, King is best known for spearheading drives to rename Congress Parkway in honor of Ida B. Wells and Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable. In the debate over Lake Shore Drive, Lightfoot initially opposed the change but agreed to a compromise that resulted in combining the names.

King and Lightfoot also clashed over the mayor’s decision to terminate the city’s 15-year-old redevelopment agreement with Mercy Hospital, paving the way for Trinity Health to sell the hospital to Insight Chicago.

Early on in her time on the Council, there was a rare moment of cooperation with Lightfoot, when King was chief sponsor of the $15-an-hour minimum wage the mayor used as a sweetener to win approval of her first city budget.

But King was among a handful of alderpersons accusing the mayor of keeping them in the dark about plans for staging a NASCAR race in July in and around Grant Park.

She also stood firm against putting a casino on the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital in her ward. The casino will be in River West instead.

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