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Mayor of Chicago

Mayor of Chicago
Seal of City of Chicago
Rahm Emanuel

since May 16, 2011
Style The Honorable
Term length 4 years, no term limits
Inaugural holder William Butler Ogden
Formation 1837
Succession President Pro-tempore of the Chicago City Council
Salary $216,210 (2014)
Website Office of the Mayor

The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive of Chicago, Illinois, the third-largest city in the United States. He or she is charged with directing city departments and agencies, and with the advice and consent of the Chicago City Council, appoints department and agency leaders.


  • Appointment powers 1
  • Election 2
  • History 3
  • List of mayors 4
  • Living former mayors 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Appointment powers

The mayor appoints the Commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department and Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. He or she also appoints the heads of city departments, the largest of which are the Water Management Department (formed by the consolidation of the former Water Department and Sewer Department under Richard M. Daley) and the Streets & Sanitation Department. He or she also appoints members to the boards of several special-purpose governmental bodies including the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. Under Richard M. Daley, the Illinois legislature granted the mayor power to appoint the governing board and chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools and subordinated the district to the mayor; the district had long been an independent unit of government.

The Chicago City Clerk and City Treasurer are elected separately, as are the 50 aldermen who form the City Council. The mayor is empowered, however, to fill vacancies in any of these 52 elected offices by appointment. In turn, the City Council elects one of its own to fill a mayoral vacancy.


The Mayor of Chicago is elected by popular vote every four years, on the last Tuesday in February. A run-off election, in the event that no candidate garners more than fifty percent of the vote, is held on the first Tuesday in April. The election is held on a non-partisan basis. Chicago is the largest city in the United States not to limit the term of service for its mayor.


The first mayor was William Butler Ogden. Two sets of father and son have been elected Mayor of Chicago: Carter Harrison, Sr. and Carter Harrison, Jr. as well as Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley. Carter Harrison, Jr. was the first mayor to have been born within city limits. The first and only woman to hold the office was Jane Byrne. The first black mayor was Harold Washington. As an interim mayor, David Duvall Orr had the shortest mayoral term. Richard M. Daley was originally elected in 1989 and re-elected for the sixth time in 2007. In September 2010, Daley announced that he would not seek reelection for a seventh term as mayor. On December 26, 2010, Daley became Chicago's longest-serving mayor, surpassing his father's record.[1] Rahm Emanuel is the current mayor, having won the 2011 election with 55% of the vote to 25% for his closest opponent, Gery Chico. Emanuel was sworn in on May 16, 2011. In an April 7, 2015 run-off election Emanuel won re-election with 55.7 percent to challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia's 44.3 percent.[2]

By charter, Chicago has a "weak-mayor" system, in which most of the power is vested in the city council. In practice, however, the mayor of Chicago has long been one of the most powerful municipal chief executives in the nation. Unlike mayors in most other weak-mayor systems, he has the power to draw up the budget. Before the mayor's office became officially nonpartisan, he was the de facto leader of the city's Democratic Party, and had great influence over the ward organizations.[3]

List of mayors

The mayoral term in Chicago was one year from 1837 through 1863, when it was increased to two years. In 1907, it was lengthened to four years, the present duration. Until 1861, municipal elections were held in March. In that year, legislation moved them to April. In 1869, however, election day was changed to November, and terms expiring in April of that year were lengthened. In 1875, election day was moved back to April by the city's vote to operate under the Cities and Villages Act of 1872.

# Portrait Name Term Party Notes
1 William Butler Ogden 1837–1838 Democratic
2 Buckner Stith Morris 1838–1839 Whig
3 Benjamin Wright Raymond 1839–1840 Whig
4 Alexander Loyd 1840–1841 Democratic
5 Francis Cornwall Sherman 1841–1842 Democratic
6 Benjamin Wright Raymond (2nd) 1842–1843 Whig
7 Augustus Garrett 1843–1844 Democratic
8 Alson Sherman 1844–1845 Independent Democrat
9 Augustus Garrett (2nd) 1845–1846 Democratic
10 John Putnam Chapin 1846–1847 Whig
11 James Curtiss 1847–1848 Democratic
12 James Hutchinson Woodworth 1848–1850 Independent Democrat
13 James Curtiss (2nd) 1850–1851 Democratic
14 Walter S. Gurnee 1851–1853 Democratic
15 Charles McNeill Gray 1853–1854 Democratic
16 Isaac Lawrence Milliken 1854–1855 Democratic
17 Levi Day Boone 1855–1856 American Party
18 Thomas Dyer 1856–1857 Democratic
19 John Wentworth 1857–1858 Republican
20 John Charles Haines 1858–1860 Democratic
21 John Wentworth (2nd) 1860–1861 Republican
22 Julian Sidney Rumsey 1861–1862 Republican
23 Francis Cornwall Sherman 1862–1865 Democratic
24 John Blake Rice 1865–1869 Republican
25 Roswell B. Mason 1869–1871 Citizens Mayor during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
26 Joseph Medill 1871–1873 Fireproof Born in New Brunswick
Lester L. Bond 1873 Independent 4 months, Acting Mayor
27 Harvey Doolittle Colvin 1873–1875 People's
Thomas Hoyne Never served Independent Election declared null and void.
28 Monroe Heath 1876–1879 Republican
29 Carter Harrison, Sr. 1879–1887 Democratic father of Carter Harrison, Jr.
30 John A. Roche 1887–1889 Republican
31 DeWitt Clinton Cregier 1889–1891 Democratic
32 Hempstead Washburne 1891–1893 Republican
33 Carter Harrison, Sr. (2nd) 1893 Democratic Assassinated in office; father of Carter Harrison, Jr.
34 George Bell Swift 1893 Republican Mayor Pro Tem
35 John Patrick Hopkins 1893–1895 Democratic First Irish American and first Catholic mayor
36 George Bell Swift (2nd) 1895–1897 Republican
37 Carter Harrison, Jr. 1897–1905 Democratic First Chicago-born mayor; son of Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr.
38 Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne 1905–1907 Democratic
39 Fred A. Busse 1907–1911 Republican
40 Carter Harrison, Jr. (2nd) 1911–1915 Democratic
41 William Hale Thompson 1915–1923 Republican
42 William Emmett Dever 1923–1927 Democratic
43 William Hale Thompson (2nd) 1927–1931 Republican
44 Anton Cermak 1931–1933 Democratic Assassinated in office; second foreign-born (in Kladno, Austria-Hungary, now Czech Republic)
45 Frank J. Corr 1933 Democratic 32 days, Acting Mayor
46 Edward Joseph Kelly 1933–1947 Democratic An act of the state legislature permitted the City Council to elect a non-alderman to fill the vacancy.
47 Martin H. Kennelly 1947–1955 Democratic
48 Richard J. Daley 1955–1976 Democratic Died in office; father of Richard M. Daley
49 Michael Anthony Bilandic 1976–1979 Democratic
50 Jane Margaret Byrne 1979–1983 Democratic The only female mayor
51 Harold Washington 1983–1987 Democratic Died in office; first Black/African-American mayor
52 David Duvall Orr 1987 Democratic 8 days, Interim Mayor
53 Eugene Sawyer 1987–1989 Democratic Elected by city council to complete Mayor Washington's term; second Black/African-American mayor
54 Richard M. Daley 1989–2011 Democratic1 Longest serving mayor; son of Richard J. Daley
55 Rahm Emanuel 2011–present Democratic1
First Jewish mayor

1 Since 1999, mayoral elections have officially been nonpartisan. A 1995 Illinois law stipulated that "candidates for mayor . . . no longer would run under party labels in Chicago." However, both Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel are known to be Democrats.[4]

Living former mayors

As of 2015, there are two living former mayors of Chicago, the older of whom is Richard M. Daley. The most recent mayor to die was Jane Byrne (1979–1983), on November 14, 2014. However, The most recently serving mayor to die was Eugene Sawyer (1987–1989), on January 19, 2008.

Name Mayoral term Date of birth
David Orr 1987 (1944-10-04) October 4, 1944
Richard M. Daley 1989–2011 (1942-04-24) April 24, 1942

See also


  1. ^ "Daley now Chicago mayor 1 day longer than father" Associated Press December 26, 2010
  2. ^ Chicago Tribune, April 7, 2015
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hardy, Thomas (July 7, 1995). "Gov. Edgar To End City Partisan Votes". Chicago Tribune. 
  • "A Chronology of Chicago's Mayors".  

External links

  • Mayor's official webpage
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