Willie Wilson announces mayoral candidacy

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
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Willie Wilson, the 66-year-old multi-millionaire businessman, formally announced he will run for mayor of Chicago on Monday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Multimillionaire businessman Willie Wilson, 66, formally announced his candidacy in an African-American church Monday, but insisted he does not want to be considered "the black candidate."

"Vote for me because I am the best person for the job for all of the city of Chicago," Wilson said.

Wilson, a Christian philanthropist who's donated millions to churches, picked cotton in the south before moving to Chicago in 1960s. With only a seventh grade education, he worked his way up at McDonald's from mopped floors to eventually owning several franchises.

He now lives in a lakefront penthouse, produces gospel music and owns $60 million-a-year medical supply company.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who launched his re-election campaign Saturday, is not impressed. Emanuel is challenging most of Wilson's nominating petitions.

The mayor's campaign alleges "more than 80 percent of their signatures include fake and duplicate signers, fake addresses and lack of voter registration among many other irregularities."

Wilson questioned the mayor's motive and his campaign manager Gregory Livingston suggested Emanuel is trying to suppress the black vote.

"For a person like Dr. Wilson, who came from a Jim Crow and segregated South," said Livingston, "it really rings, it resonates of voter suppression and disenfranchisement."

Wilson is scheduled to appear before the Election Board on Tuesday to defend himself against the mayor's allegations. Wilson's campaign is objecting to the petitions filed by at least three other African American candidates.