Paul Vallas

Longtime education administrator is running for mayor of Chicago

March 29, 2018
Paul Vallas, who has led school systems in Chicago, Philadelphia and Louisiana, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Paul Vallas, formerly the top administrator of school districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere, is planning to run for mayor of Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Vallas's election attorney, Burt Odelson, is planning to file paperwork next week to set up a “Paul Vallas for Chicago” campaign committee.

Vallas, 64, is “150 percent” committed to running in the 2019 election, Odelson says.

Vallas, who began his career in education administration in 1995 as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, is seeking to unseat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has held the job since 2011. Also challenging Emanuel in the 2019 race is the city's former police chief, Garry McCarthy.

In running for mayor, Vallas is seeking to return to the city government where he worked before being plucked to enter the world of education.

Prior to his school assignment, Vallas was the city's budget director under Mayor Richard M. Daley, who chose Vallas to lead a major reform of the nation's third-largest school system. He was one of may non-educators around the nation that were being brought in to oversee struggling school systems.

After a tenure that earned him a reputation as an education reformer, Vallas was replaced in 2001 by Arne Duncan, who later became U.S. Secretary of Education.

Vallas subsequently served as CEO of the Philadelphia school district from 2002 to 2007. Then he was tapped to lead the Recovery School District in Louisiana, which had assumed control of most of the public schools in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. He held that post from 2007 to 2011.

He also was superintendent of the Bridgeport (Conn.) school district from 2011 to 2013. In 2017, he became the temporary chief administrator at the financially troubled Chicago State University, but trustees ousted him earlier this year amid reports that Vallas was planning a mayoral race.

The mayoral campaign is not Vallas's first involvement with electoral politics. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor in 2002, and in 2014, was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Illinois, but was defeated in the general election.

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