The History of Chicago’s mayoral office: Did you know?

Chicago’s municipal elections are coming up on February 26, and voters in the nation’s third-largest city are surrounded by news stories, campaign finance data, polling numbers, endorsements, and campaign ads. We invite you to take a short break from the news cycle to dive into the history of the city and the mayoral office—doing so will help put the 2019 election in better context (and give you some fun facts to share with friends).
Did you know?
  1. Chicago has hosted more major-party national conventions than any other city at 25. The next most popular spot, Baltimore, held 10.
  2. Chicago voters last elected a Republican mayor in 1927.
  3. In 1933, Mayor Anton Cermak was shot and killed in a failed assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt while the two were meeting in Miami.
  4. Chicago was the nation’s second-largest city from 1890 to 1982. Its population peaked at 3.6 million in the 1950 census. As of 2017, Chicago had 2.7 million residents.
  5. Municipal election turnout was at a high of 82% in 1983 and a low of 33% in 2007.
  6. In 2018, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was responsible for a budget of $8.6 billion, comparable in size to the budget of Iowa.
For more political history on the city and the mayor’s office, including the evolution of the mayor’s powers, the prominence of the Democratic Party in the city, historical elections results, and voter turnout stats, click here.

Major local, national endorsements in the weeks ahead of Chicago mayoral race

Between Feb. 8 and Feb. 13, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and a former vice president endorsed candidates in the February 26 Chicago mayoral race.
On Feb. 13, the Tribune editorial board endorsed Bill Daley. It said in its endorsement, “We’re drawn…toward a candidate who speaks broadly of building Chicago. Toward a native Chicagoan who looks outward to a nation and world that wrongly think they already have Chicago figured out: It’s that glassy, glossy downtown flanked by neighborhoods rife with poverty and crime.”
On Feb. 8, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board endorsed Lori Lightfoot, writing, “More than any of the other 13 mayoral candidates, she has the vision, values, qualifications and policies to be an effective leader for the whole city, from the hedge fund managers to the fast food workers.”
Also on Feb. 8, former Vice President Al Gore (D) endorsed Bill Daley, citing Daley’s positions on climate change. Daley served as U.S. commerce secretary from 1997 to 2000 while Gore was vice president.
Other noteworthy endorsements from the past month:
  1. Crain’s Chicago Business endorsed Daley
  2. Former candidate Dorothy Brown backed Amara Enyia
  3. Illinois Education Association Region 67 endorsed Lightfoot
  4. Illinois Nurses Association backed Susana Mendoza
  5. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards endorsed Toni Preckwinkle
  6. Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean Morrison endorsed Willie Wilson (a Democrat)
Click here for a full list of endorsements in the mayoral race compiled by Ballotpedia, and subscribe to The Deep Dish for weekly updates on Chicago’s 2019 elections.

2018 election lingers in Phoenix with mayoral race runoff

The November 2018 elections aren’t done yet. A runoff in Phoenix’s mayoral election is taking place on March 12, 2019, between former Phoenix City Council members Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela.

They were the top two vote-getters in the nonpartisan special election on November 6, 2018, although neither candidate surpassed the 50 percent threshold to win outright. Gallego received 44 percent to Valenzuela’s 26 percent in a field of four candidates.

Gallego said her top three priorities would be public safety, infrastructure investments, and job growth. She said she has experience and a proven track record on infrastructure issues, pointing to her work on the campaign to pass Proposition 104, an infrastructure measure seeking to bring $31.5 billion of infrastructure investment over the next 35 years.

Valenzuela said his policy priorities included attracting, retaining, and developing talent, and motivating technology and high-growth companies to remain in Phoenix. He said that he brought an increased focus on public safety to the city council, including helping to secure $50 million in grants for public safety issues and developing the Canyon Corridor Crime Safety Initiative.

Two special elections for District 5 and District 8 of the Phoenix City Council—the seats Gallego and Valenzuela resigned from—will also be on the ballot on March 12.

Three Oklahoma school districts hold February primaries

Three Oklahoma school boards within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope held primaries on February 12. Incumbent Robert West was re-elected to the Catoosa Public Schools school board, and incumbent Staci L. Pruett won re-election to the Moore Public Schools Board of Education. In Tulsa Public Schools, Jania Wester won a special election to fill a vacancy in District 2. In the race for District 1, Nicole Nixon and Stacey Woolley advanced to a general election on April 2, 2019, after neither candidate won a majority of the vote in the primary.

Tulsa Public Schools is the largest of these three school districts and the second-largest school district in Oklahoma. It served 38,625 students during the 2016-2017 school year. Ballotpedia is covering elections for 29 school board seats across 25 Oklahoma school districts in 2019.

Candidate filing deadline passes in Las Vegas

On February 8, 2019, the filing deadline passed to run for mayor and three of six city council seats in Las Vegas, Nevada. The mayor of the city occupies the seventh seat of the city council. The primary is on April 2, and the general election is on June 11. Both elections are nonpartisan.

In the race for mayor, incumbent Carolyn Goodman faces six challengers in her bid for a third term. If Goodman is re-elected, term limits will prevent her from seeking a fourth term in the city’s next mayoral election in 2023. First elected in 2011, she succeeded her husband, Oscar B. Goodman, who had served the maximum of three terms in office.

Candidates in the mayoral race include Tina Alexander, former Clark County Treasurer candidate Phil Collins, Zachary Krueger, Amy Luciano, Vance Sanders, and former Nevada State Assembly candidate Mack Miller.

The city council races for Wards 1, 3, and 5 are all contested. Ward 5’s Cedric Crear was the lone incumbent to file for re-election, and he faces two challengers. He was elected to the council in a special election on March 27, 2018, after the resignation of Ricki Barlow. Barlow resigned after pleading guilty to using funds from his 2015 re-election campaign for personal use.

The race for Ward 1 features 10 candidates, and the race for Ward 3 features seven candidates. The last time these seats were up for election in 2015, two candidates filed in Ward 1, and six candidates sought election in Ward 3. The incumbents in both wards won outright in the primary that year.

Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and the 29th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Nashville Metro Council special election headed to runoff

A special election for District 29 on the Nashville Metro Council advanced to a runoff after no candidates received over 50 percent of the vote during the general election. Candidates Nicola La Mattina and Delishia Porterfield will face each other again in the runoff scheduled for March 19, 2019. They defeated Constance Smith-Burwell and Vicky Tataryn in the general election on February 12.

The election was called to fill the seat vacated by former council member Karen Johnson after she was elected to be the Davidson County Register of Deeds in November 2018. Her term was set to expire in 2019.

The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Johnson’s term and will have to stand for re-election in the regular election on August 1, 2019. All 41 metro council seats will be on the ballot, including the vice-mayor (who presides over the council), five at-large members, and 35 by-district members. Nashville is also holding a mayoral election.

Nashville is the second-largest city in Tennessee and the 24th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Oklahoma City holds city council primary

Primaries were held for four of nine city council seats in Oklahoma City on February 12. The city council consists of nine members, including the mayor. While the mayor is elected at large, the other council members are elected by the city’s eight wards.

The races for Wards 2, 5, 6, and 8 were all decided outright in the primary. If no candidate had received at least 50 percent of the vote, a general election would have been held on April 2, 2019. Newcomers James Cooper and Jobeth Hamon were elected in Ward 2 and Ward 6, respectively, while incumbents David Greenwell and Mark Stonecipher were re-elected in Wards 5 and 8.

Oklahoma City is the largest city in Oklahoma and the 26th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Seattle sends out campaign finance vouchers, one of two connections between the city’s 2019 elections and ballot measures

Seattle, Washington, is holding elections for seven of the nine seats on its city council on November 5, 2019. Two previously-approved ballot measures will play out with this November’s elections. Let’s explore how they played out.

The two ballot measures: the City of Seattle Restrictions on Campaign Finance and Elections Initiative (2015) and the Seattle City Council Districts Proposition (2013).

On Tuesday, Seattle planned to send all eligible voters four $25 vouchers that they may give to a candidate or candidates of their choosing, provided the candidate adheres to certain campaign contribution limits. Creation of the voucher program was part of Measure No. 122, the City of Seattle Restrictions on Campaign Finance and Elections Initiative, which voters approved in 2015 by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent.

This year is the second time that the city has sent the vouchers. The program debuted in 2017.

The seven seats up for election this November are the city’s seven geographically-drawn districts; the other two are at-large seats. This year marks only the second time that voters will elect city council members by district, rather than at-large, seats.

Charter Amendment 19, the Seattle City Council Districts Proposition, was approved by voters 66 percent to 34 percent in 2013. The amendment changed the form of the city council from nine at-large positions to seven positions elected according to geographic districts and two at-large positions.

Municipal elections of some kind will be on the ballot in 66 of America’s 100 largest cities in 2019.

Read about both Seattle measures below.


Local Wisconsin primaries coming up on Tuesday

On February 19, Wisconsin is holding primaries for local offices where more than two candidates filed to run per seat. Wisconsin holds annual elections each spring. Primary winners will advance to the state’s general election on April 2. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central.

Ballotpedia is covering primaries in Madison for mayor and four city council seats. Mayor Paul Soglin is facing four challengers in the primary. The council primaries are for District 3, District 12, District 13, and District 15; all four are open-seat races without an incumbent running for re-election. Ballotpedia is also covering school board primaries in Madison and Milwaukee. The Madison primaries are for Seat 3, Seat 4, and Seat 5; the only incumbent running for re-election is the Seat 5 member, TJ Mertz. In Milwaukee, only the District 8 seat is on the primary ballot. Out of the 21 Wisconsin school board seats up for election this year that Ballotpedia is covering, 17 of the seats had their primaries canceled.

Primaries were also canceled for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Wisconsin Court of Appeals seats on the ballot in 2019. Brian Hagedorn and Lisa Neubauer were the only candidates to file for the supreme court seat. Mark Gundrum, Lisa Stark, and Jennifer Nashold were the only candidates to file for the District II, District III, and District IV seats on the appeals court, respectively. More than two candidates would have needed to file for a given seat in order to require a primary. Wisconsin’s filing deadline passed on January 2.

Of the eight states holding some form of statewide election in 2019, Wisconsin’s primary and general elections are the first to take place. The next round of statewide elections are scheduled for May 21:

*Idaho: a statewide general election is on the ballot for a state supreme court seat
*Kentucky: statewide primaries are on the ballot for state executive offices and a court of appeals seat
*Pennsylvania: a statewide primary is on the ballot for five appellate court seats, along with a special general election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R) following his January 23 resignation

Wisconsin school board recall to be held February 19

A recall election seeking to remove two of the seven members of the Flambeau School District Board of Education in Wisconsin will be held on February 19, 2019. The process to recall board President Sam Stewart and board clerk Danielle Zimmer started in December 2018. The two members were targeted for recall due to allegedly disrespectful comments, finger pointing, and lack of transparency, according to the leaders of the recall effort.

Stewart and Zimmer filed challenges to the recall petitions after they were filed. The board members said the reasons for recall listed on the petitions were personal opinions unrelated to their responsibilities as officeholders. They also said the reasons for recall did not provide a basis for recall and included personal attacks on their characters.

Stewart and Zimmer were also targeted for recall in 2018 along with board Vice President Patrick Anderson. The 2018 petitions against the three board members said they were being recalled due to disrespectful behavior, negative representation, and poor decision making. The effort failed to make the ballot due to improper documentation.

Ballotpedia has tracked two school board recall efforts nationwide targeting five board members so far in 2019. In 2018, 33 school board recall efforts targeted 74 board members. Twelve recall elections were held that year, and the recall success rate was 29.7 percent.

Overall in 2018, a total of 206 recall efforts targeting 299 officials at all levels of government were tracked, which was less than the 241 efforts against 329 officials tracked in 2017.