Lori Lightfoot elected as Chicago’s first black female mayor

Lori Lightfoot was elected as Chicago's first black female mayor on Tuesday after defeating Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Photo courtesy Daniel X. O'Neil/Wikimedia Commons

April 3 (UPI) — Lori Lightfoot was elected Chicago’s mayor in a landslide victory Tuesday night, becoming the city’s first African-American female mayor as well as the first openly gay person to lead the city.

Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and president of the Chicago Police Board, earned a decisive victory over Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a runoff election with 74.2 percent of the vote to Preckwinkle’s 25.8 percent, with 70.7 percent of the precincts reporting.

“Today, you did more than make history, you created a movement for change,” she told supporters following her election.

Lightfoot is the third African American to be elected mayor of Chicago, the second woman and the first ever LGBT person, making Chicago the largest city in the United States to be led by an openly gay mayor.

She told her celebrating supporters Tuesday night at the Hilton Chicago that 11 months ago when their campaign began, no one gave them much of a chance to win given they were up against “powerful interests and a powerful machine.”

But faith “in this city, in its people and its future” kept her motivated.

“We let our faith overcome our fears, and look at where we are today, just look at us,” she said. “We still have faith, we’re still determined and with this mandate for change we’re going to take the next steps together.”

She said now that the election is over, she looks forward to working with Preckwinkle for the city “we both love.”

Meanwhile, at a night club in Hyde Park, Preckwinkle told her supporters that the election results may not be what they were after and while she may be disappointed, she’s not disheartened.

“For one thing, this is clearly a historic night,” she said. “Not long ago, two African-American women vying for this position would have been unthinkable. And while it may be true we took different paths to get here, tonight is about the path forward.”

Lightfoot also won the general election in February, edging out Preckwinkle by a point and a half to come out atop a field of a dozen other candidates to force the runoff election.

She will succeed outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who announced last summer he wouldn’t run for the office again in 2019.

Tuesday’s result follows a harsh campaign cycle, in which the two candidates traded public barbs, with Lightfoot positioning herself as a needed change to the city’s government and Preckwinkle touting her decades of experience in public office.

The two candidates agreed to hold a “day of unity” on Wednesday to settle the fierce nature of the divisive campaign at the request of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“The commitment needs to be to work together for the interests of the people of the city of Chicago,” Preckwinkle said of the plan for unity after the election, on Saturday as they signed the pledge.


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