Since Chicago switched to a nonpartisan, two-round Mayoral election system in 1999, there has never been a runoff election without an incumbent on the ballot. This year is, thus, the first time in Chicago history that a newly elected Mayor must prepare to take over the reins of a $20 billion enterprise (including the City and sister agencies) in less than seven weeks, between the runoff on April 2nd and the inauguration on May 20th.

Given the large number of candidates running for Mayor, many predicted a runoff early on. Accordingly, in fall 2018, Civic Consulting Alliance and our partners began preparing for a compressed transition. In collaboration with multiple partners, we:

  • Developed single-page overviews of all City departments and sister agencies for easy and immediate reference by the eventual runoff winner;
  • Created consolidated financial projections and an adaptable model of City and sister agency finances;
  • Compiled (through the pro bono work of Mayer Brown) a list of hundreds of Mayoral appointments; and
  • Worked with external partners to develop a detailed fact base and a set of strategic opportunities (non-partisan summaries of nine core issue areas) so that the eventual winner would have, in one place, data on the City’s current state as well as potential opportunities and challenges across these issue areas.

Starting on February 27th, the day after the general election, Civic Consulting Alliance and our pro bono partners began work with designees from both runoff candidates. While the campaigns raged, both transition teams began quietly to prepare, determined to do all that they could to be ready to begin a transition sprint on April 3rd.

For five weeks, Civic Consulting Alliance and our partners worked with both transition teams, offering identical support to both candidates on a written agreement that none of the work could be used in the electoral process. During this time, we helped each team develop:

  • A plan for sourcing, recruiting, screening, and hiring key personnel;
  • Structure and processes for external transition committees that could engage residents broadly, so that Chicagoans from diverse ethnic, gender, age, geographic, political, and identity groups would participate in and contribute to the transition process;
  • A process for moving from electoral to governing policy priorities;
  • A plan for briefings from the outgoing administration; and
  • Their overall program management approach for a transition.

First thing in the morning on April 3rd, the day after the runoff, the Mayor-elect, her transition team, and multiple pro bono partners hit the ground running, kicking off the transition sprint with a plan in place.