Chicago elects Lori Lightfoot to be first black female mayor

Ethan Sandock

By Alexandra Yetter, Staff Reporter

In a landslide victory, former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot will become the first black female and openly gay mayor of Chicago.

“I’m here because my personal and professional experiences have prepared me to lead with compassion, integrity and persistence,” Lightfoot said in her victory speech after receiving a concession telephone call from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “I know on a deeply personal level that we need change.”

With 97% of precincts reporting, Lightfoot received 74 percent of the vote to Preckwinkle’s 26 percent, according to the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago.

In Preckwinkle’s concession speech, she said her political and civic leadership “doesn’t end tonight.” Preckwinkle said she will continue to work in public service as board president, fighting for the issues she campaigned on for mayor.

The runoff election between Lightfoot and Preckwinkle was often compared to the 1983 election of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. However, the voter turnout between the two races was the polar opposite.

Turnout in Washington’s 1983 election was a record-breaking 82 percent while voter turnout in this historic race barely passed 30 percent.

The run for mayor began in September with the surprising announcement that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would not be seeking re-election. From there, countless candidates announced their bid, with only 14 making it to the ballot, including businessman Willie Wilson, State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, community organizer Amara Enyia, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, and Bill Daley, son and brother of former Mayors Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley.

Corruption and police reform became the central issues in both campaigns.

Lightfoot attacked Preckwinkle over ties to embattled Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward), who was charged with attempted extortion. The shadow of the Laquan McDonald fatal shooting and the subsequent Jason Van Dyke trial also loomed over the race.

As Preckwinkle received endorsements from the Chicago Teachers Union, Chance the Rapper and Secretary of State Jesse White, Lightfoot was endorsed by The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune and many of the former mayoral candidates, including Mendoza, Wilson and Vallas.

Lightfoot, along with new aldermen and City Treasurer-elect Melissa Conyears-Ervin, will take office May 20.