CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fifteenth Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez announced Monday morning that he is dropping out of the Chicago mayor's race, hoping his departure will give support to another candidate who can defeat Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
"As we looked at the field and the fact that the opportunity exists for Lori Lightfoot to get re-elected, it was more than I could bear," Lopez said as he dropped off his petitions to run for re-election as alderman.
The news came as other mayoral hopefuls made the first steps to get their names on the ballot, turning in stacks of nominating petitions. All candidates must have 12,500 valid signatures to get on the ballot.
"We're just shy of 25,000 and listen I know challenges are part of the process in Chicago, but we're confident," said candidate Kam Buckner. "We were out here talking to people all around the city and people are excited about a change."
Lines of candidates and their supporters for different city offices weaved in and out of the Chicago Board of Elections' 'Super Site' in the Loop.
"It's a Chicago tradition to show up early, to have your campaign signs out to celebrate with your family and friends all the hard work of capturing those petition signatures," Max Bever with the Chicago Board of Elections said.
Mayoral candidates businessman Willie Wilson and 4th Ward Alderwoman Sophia King was among those submitting petitions.
"We are not going to take a paycheck," Wilson said. "We are going to give what they give us to the churches and community."
"I am just excited to be here," King said. "We've got over 37,000 petitions from all across the city."
Each made the first steps to potentially hold Chicago's top office.
"Today what you're seeing is candidates line up to get a chance to be in the lottery to be the first on the ballot," Bever said.
The already crowded field of mayoral candidates suddenly shrunk just a bit early Monday when Lopez suddenly announced that he is dropping out of the race and is instead seeking re-election in his district.
"What's for the good of the city is to ensure Lori Lightfoot is defeated and denied a second term," Lopez said.
Lopez is one of the most outspoken critics of Lightfoot.
"I also know that this can't just be about me," Lopez said. "This has to be about the city of Chicago and I have said that from the very beginning...Sometimes it means you have to do what's right even when it hurts."
Lopez has not backed another candidate as of yet. Asked if he still would consider running for mayor in the future, he said he's focused on his election in February.
Mayor Lightfoot has not responded yet to requests for comment.
The election is set for February 28.