CHICAGO—Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot’s resounding victory was a clear call for change at City Hall and a historic repudiation of the old-style, insider politics that have long defined the nation’s third-largest city. It also was part of the city’s government moving further to the left.
Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who’d never been elected to public office, defeated Cook County Board President and longtime City Council member Toni Preckwinkle on April 2 with backing from voters across the city. Late results showed Lightfoot, 56, winning every one of the city’s 50 wards.
Lightfoot also made history, becoming the first black woman and the first openly gay person to be elected Chicago mayor. Chicago will become the largest U.S. city to have a black woman serve as mayor when Lightfoot is sworn in on May 20. She will join seven other black women currently serving as mayors in major U.S. cities, including Atlanta and New Orleans, and will be the second woman to lead Chicago.
“Out there tonight a lot of little girls and boys are watching. They’re watching us, and they’re seeing the beginning of something, well, a little bit different,” Lightfoot told a jubilant crowd at a downtown hotel. “They’re seeing a city reborn.”
She pledged to make Chicago “a place where your zip code doesn’t determine your destiny,” to address the city’s violence and to “break this city’s endless cycle of corruption” that allows politicians to profit from their office.
During her campaign, Lightfoot advocated for a number of progressive policies, such as free tuition at city colleges. The socialist newspaper People’s World reported that five avowed socialists were elected as aldermen.
Lucie Macias, one of two Chicago Democratic Socialists of America co-chairs told People’s World: “Our Chicago for All platform is based on three main planks: housing for all, sanctuary for all, and education for all. We’re excited to build a socialist caucus in city hall to carry out this agenda and fight for Chicago’s working class.”
The new mayor will take over a city that faces massive financial problems. She will have just a few months to prepare a new budget, which in 2020 is expected to have a roughly $250 million deficit. Lightfoot also will take over the worst-funded public pensions of any major U.S. city. Chicago’s annual payments to the retirement systems are slated to grow by $1.2 billion by 2023.
She has expressed support for a casino in Chicago and changing the state’s income tax system to a graduated tax, in which higher earners are taxed at a higher rate—two measures lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to pass for years.
Violence and policing will also continue to be an issue, and one that has proven to be politically difficult.
By Sara Burnett and Herbert G. McCann of the Associated Press. Additional reporting by The Epoch Times.