Chicago Ald. Sophia King will launch her first TV ad of the 2023 mayoral election on Wednesday as she attempts to unseat Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
King, who represents parts of downtown and Hyde Park along the lakefront, is the only woman challenging Lightfoot in a nine-candidate field. On the campaign trail, King has argued that her rivals represent an overly polarized view of the issues. U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” García and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson are too far to the left, she has said, while businessman Willie Wilson and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas are too far to the right.
The ad opens with King holding her phone toward the screen as a timer counts down.
“When you call the police, you shouldn’t have to wait 30 minutes no matter where you live,” King says.
“If we reject false choices, we can tackle today’s violence and root causes. We can uplift our police and hold them accountable. We can revitalize our neighborhoods and downtown,” King says in the ad. “We can prepare our kids for college and the trades. We can have safety and justice. That’s the power of ‘and.’”
For King, the ad is an attempt to boost her name recognition and propel herself past other, deeper-pocketed candidates who have been on the air for weeks.
Last quarter, King took in $231,000 and spent $219,000, leaving her with nearly $230,000 cash on hand. Her campaign recently received a $100,000 campaign loan from her husband, who is an attorney and a DJ. King is a former school administrator and community volunteer who was appointed 4th Ward alderman by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
In her time on the City Council, King is best known citywide for the renaming of a pair of high-profile streets and pushing for the $15 minimum wage.
At first, King unsuccessfully led a push to rechristen downtown’s Balbo Drive in honor of Ida B. Wells, the Black journalist who worked to expose lynchings and pushed for women’s voting rights. Italian Americans objected to renaming Balbo, which was named for pilot Italo Balbo, who flew from Rome to Chicago in 1933 for the Century of Progress Exposition and who was an ally of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini. As a compromise, aldermen renamed Congress Parkway downtown for Wells.
King also worked with Ald. David Moore to rename Lake Shore Drive to honor Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, the Black founder of Chicago, in 2021. Lightfoot vigorously objected to the plan and pushed several efforts to rename something other than Lake Shore in honor of DuSable but she got behind a compromise renaming the iconic road Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive rather than risk taking a total loss in the 50-member council.
Earlier this year, the Tribune published an analysis of 2022 city data that found that tens of thousands of serious calls lingered in the 911 system for longer than it typically takes to get a pizza delivered.
Citywide, the wait for an officer to be dispatched topped an hour for more than 21,000 calls, according to the city’s data. That was roughly one of every 24 high-priority calls.