"Chicago needs a mayor that has walked in the shoes of everyday Chicagoans," Garcia told the crowd.
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, fresh off being elected to a third term in Congress, launched his bid for Chicago mayor Thursday. It's Garcia's second run, and he wasted no time going after Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Garcia said Chicago is at a crossroads and needs new leadership. He promised to unite the city by building coalitions, and he hopes to ride his experience and his name recognition from the 4rd Congressional District to the 5th floor of City Hall.
"It is quite evident that the winds of change are blowing across the city of Chicago this morning," Garcia said as he joined dozens of supporters on Navy Pier to launch his campaign for Chicago mayor.
Garcia joins an already crowded field looking to lead the Windy City. He made it clear he is ready to take on Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
"Chicago needs a mayor that has walked in the shoes of everyday Chicagoans," Garcia told the crowd. "A man who has the experience in City Council, in Springfield, County Board and Washington DC. A mayor who will bring together and unite instead of driving us apart."
Garcia, who calls the late Mayor Harold Washington a friend and mentor, launched his bid on the 40th anniversary of Washington's historic announcement of his campaign for mayor.
"Like Harold Washington, Chuy's a United, a uniter, a unifier," said former Congressman Luis Guittierez, who handpicked Garcia to be his successor. "Look, it doesn't matter if you're Black or White, Latino Asian, gay or straight: Chuy has a record of accomplishment."
By waiting this long to enter the race, Garcia has lost the support of two key unions that backed his 2015 mayoral bid. SEUI Local 73 and the Chicago Teachers Union have already thrown their support to Brandon Johnson, but Garcia is undeterred.
"He'll immediately rise to a top contender in this race. He has name recognition, the brand, he's run for mayor before," ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington said. "He's now a sitting congressman, and he has a base. So this makes him a player and a real contender."
In casting his vision for Chicago, Garcia talked about the need for bringing economic hope to Chicagoans but he said it starts with getting a handle on crime.
"Chicagoans deserve to know that when you walk out of your door and you head to work, send your kids to school, your family is safe," Garcia said.
Lightfoot's campaign issued a statement calling Garcia a career politician who is prioritizing his own ambitions, and criticizing him for abandoning his role in Congress when Democrats need him.
The election is set for February of next year.