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State Rep. La Shawn Ford joins Chicago mayor’s race, vows to champion West Side

Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, on the floor of the Illinois House in 2013. | AP Photo/Seth Perlman) ORG XMIT: ILSP104

State Rep. La Shawn Ford on Thursday said he will join the race for mayor of Chicago as a champion for communities like the West Side neighborhoods he represents in Springfield.

The decision comes after he talked to three other people now running for mayor, he said, but couldn’t support any of them.

None, he said, “agreed that we should make sure that the city has a focus on directing attention to the communities that need it the most. Most of the people I talked to [said] ‘I want to be the mayor for the entire City.’ I said, that’s what you’re supposed to be, but in order to make this beautiful city more beautiful, you have to go where the fire is,” Ford said.


Ford points to his work on criminal justice reform, pre-K and child care, and gun violence prevention bills in Springfield as proof he can deliver for Chicago.

He’d balance the needs of poor communities with the concerns of taxpayers and the need for the city to meet its pension obligations by drawing in more state and federal money, Ford said.

Voters should be skeptical of any candidate or potential candidate with a strong connection to the institutional Democratic Party in Cook County, Ford said, including two of those already in the race — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former White House chief of staff and U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley.

“We know what we’re going to get with that type of relationship. We’re going to have more establishment politics that have cost this city billions of dollars and left millions of people disenfranchised and leaving the city,” Ford said.

Ford says he has three times the 12,500 petition signatures he needs to get on the ballot in February. His campaign committee had more than $12,000 on hand at the end of September, according to his quarterly report filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections. It has reported $14,500 in contributions so far in the last quarter of the year.

His official campaign launch is slated for Nov. 8 at Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center in Austin.

Ford has represented the 8th district, which stretches from the West Side of Chicago to La Grange, since 2007. He is unopposed for his Illinois House seat in next week’s election.

In 2014 Ford pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor tax fraud, ending a case that began with 17 felony charges and prompting Ford to declare he had been vindicated. The judge in the case said the offense Ford pleaded to was “fundamentally a mistake.”

Ford is the latest candidate to enter the crowded race for mayor after Rahm Emanuel announced he would not seek re-election in September.