Chicago’s first Black and openly gay female mayor, Lori Lightfoot, lost her re-election bid on Tuesday.
Lori Lightfoot Loses Mayor Position
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who made history as the city’s first Black woman and openly gay person to hold the position, lost her bid for re-election on Tuesday.
Lightfoot did not receive enough votes in the nine-person race to proceed to the April 4 runoff election, according to The Associated Press.
The upcoming runoff election will be contested between Paul Vallas, a former CEO of Chicago schools, and Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner backed by the Chicago Teachers Union. The two candidates differ sharply in their political beliefs, with Vallas running as a moderate law-and-order candidate, while Johnson is advocating for a progressive agenda.
The people of Chicago have made it clear that they want change, with both the incumbent mayor and a sitting congressman being rejected. Lightfoot’s loss marks the first time an incumbent mayor of Chicago has been defeated since 1983 when Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, lost her primary.
Conceding defeat at her party in downtown Chicago, Lightfoot held her head high and acknowledged that she didn’t win the election, saying, “Obviously we didn’t win the election today, but I stand here with my head held high.”
Chicago’s Never-ending Crime
Throughout Lightfoot’s term as mayor, crime has remained a persistent issue and a top concern among Chicago residents.
Given Vallas’s tough-on-crime platform and support in the densely populated northern and northwestern areas of the city, he was widely anticipated to emerge as frontrunner in the first voting round, and he gained the endorsement of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.
Paul Valles, Frontrunner
In his victory speech, Vallas promised to prioritize public safety and make Chicago the safest city in America. For Lightfoot, this marks the end of a tumultuous tenure, during which she became a controversial figure among conservatives and frequently clashed with institutional interests such as the Chicago Teachers Union, the media, and the police rank and file. Although she was praised for her handling of the pandemic, her leadership faced violent riots in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
Lightfoot’s re-election campaign was met with significant challenges, as she lost support in Chicago’s lakeshore neighborhoods and faced opposition from major labor unions. Furthermore, she competed against six other Black candidates for votes among the city’s Black population, including Johnson, who had the backing of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, and Willie Wilson, a Black entrepreneur who had been polling ahead of Johnson.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown is resigning effective March 16, Lightfoot said in a statement.
John Lausch, Jr., head of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago, is resigning effective March 11, his office said in a statement.
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