Orr not? Cook County clerk opts out of mayoral race, as others move in
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Five days after announcing he was considering “a return to the mayor’s office,” Cook County Clerk David Orr on Monday ended his exploration of running for the post he once held for eight days.
Orr’s decision comes as the wide open mayoral field ebbs and flows. Two potential candidates floated trial balloons on Monday, and a third declared he is running.
City Treasurer Kurt Summers launched a website Monday for would-be voters to weigh in on his potential mayoral bid.
A spokesperson for Summers called the site “[Summers’] version of an exploratory committee.”
“He’s at a point right now where he’s listening to people, so he can make an informed decision,” the spokesperson said. “He wants to hear from all people.”
Also eyeing a bid is state Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago). The decision came after the West Side Black Elected Officials voted in favor of starting an exploratory committee for a mayoral run for the representative, whose district includes the West Side of the city.
Ford said potentially jumping into the race would help make sure that residents on the South and West Sides are represented and the issues they face are addressed.
“Our goal is to make sure Chicago has someone who understands the pressing issues,” Ford said. “We believe we have a handle on the issues the city faces.”
William “Dock” Walls said he does not to do any more exploring and will be joining the race, bringing the field of candidates to 13. He says he’ll be circulating petitions in a couple of days.
It’s the former city official’s fourth run for mayor. He’s also run for Congress and city clerk. He filed to run for governor this year as an independent candidate, but lost a challenge to his nominating petitions.
“Without equivalence, I’m the best candidate for the office,” Walls said, arguing he is better prepared than any of the other candidates. “They have no clue what’s needed.”
Walls said that he plans to address the city’s growing homicide numbers and pension problems. He said reorganizing some of the city’s largest departments under Mayor Harold Washington gives him the experience needed to solve the problems the city faces.
Orr was just as adamant that he is not running.
After Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s surprise decision last week not to seek a third term, Orr announced he was “exploring a change of plans … from gleeful retirement to a return to the mayor’s office.”
More than three decades ago, Orr served as interim mayor after Washington died on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving of 1987. Then 49th Ward alderman, Orr had been vice mayor, so he held the mayoral post until Eugene Sawyer was chosen acting mayor at a tumultuous City Council meeting on Dec. 2, 1987.
Orr, who is set to retire from the clerk position in December, told the Sun-Times about his decision Monday afternoon. He said the choice was “almost all personal.”
“I’ve been planning, after almost 40 years in public life, to retire,” Orr said. “I hope to use my political goodwill to elect a City Council and mayor to help the city move in the right direction.”
Summers is a former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. He is also a former senior vice president at GCM Grosvenor, the financial firm run by Michael Sacks, a top donor to Emanuel.
Preckwinkle is eyeing her own bid for mayor among others.
Scott Kastrup, Preckwinkle’s political director, said in a statement “Chicagoans know that no one has worked more effectively than Toni Preckwinkle to strengthen access to affordable healthcare, confront gun violence as a public health crisis and reform our criminal justice system.”
“She’s been a public servant in this City for over 25 years – she has a unique understanding of the importance, responsibilities and hard work of the Mayor’s Office,” the statement read. “She is giving serious consideration running for mayor and will be making an announcement regarding her decision shortly.”
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