Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid to return as the city’s mayor for a second term. The Chicago mayoral election took place on Tuesday, February 28th. Lightfoot, who is a Democrat, came in third in the election which had a total of nine candidates. She managed to garner 16% of the vote, a total of 75,000 ballots. With the top two candidates, Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson, failing to win the election outright, they will participate in a run-off in April. Paul Vallas is the former Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools while Brandon Johnson is a Cook County board member.
A Crime Problem
Lightfoot made history when she became the first openly gay Black woman to serve as mayor of Chicago. However, she faced several challenges as the political leader of the city. Chicago, with a population of 2.7 million, is the third largest city in the United States. The city has been plagued with the typical problems of a big city such as inflation, housing, and crime. Crime and public safety were the standout issues that led to Mayor Lightfoot becoming the first mayor since 1983 to fail to get re-elected.
Chicago is globally infamous for gun violence, informally christened “Chiraq.” The homicide rate in the city became worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, 500 homicides were committed in the city. However, in 2021, 804 people lost their lives to homicide. This was Chicago’s highest homicide rate in 25 years. Last year, 700 people were killed and while it is a lower number of people compared to 2021, it is higher than the pre-pandemic number.
Mayor Lightfoot also clashed over her handling of COVID-19 with both the police and teachers’ union, disagreements that did not help her cause. She disagreed with the Fraternal Order of Police over the city’s requirement for law enforcement officers to report their COVID-19 vaccination status. With the teacher’s union, she pushed for a return to in-person learning, which could have affected the learners’ and educators’ health.
“Serving as your mayor has been the honor of a lifetime, and I am so grateful to all of you who have stood beside me these last four years. We’ve made significant progress building a safer, more equitable city. I thank each and every one of you for believing in me,” she wrote on Twitter, sharing a picture of herself hugging a woman with the caption, “Thank you, Chicago.”
Lightfoot claimed that her tenure as mayor was judged harshly because she is a Black woman. “I’m a Black woman in America. Of course,” she said when she was asked about it.
Lightfoot’s ousting from her seat was eagerly celebrated by her critics. “Lori Lightfoot. Crime doesn’t pay,” Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on Twitter.
“There is hope for my home city yet,” wrote Jonathan Turley, a criminal defense attorney and Fox News contributor. “Lori Lightfoot is out. The greatest potential improvement for the city since 1900 when the direction of the Chicago river was reversed.”
Formerly a federal prosecutor, Lightfoot won the Chicago mayor’s election in April 2019. She became the first black woman and the first openly gay person to assume office. Having never made a run for an elected political position, Lightfoot was at the time, a surprise winner, claiming a victory in the runoff election with 74% of the vote. She campaigned on the promise of reducing gun violence and ending the culture of corruption in the city’s political arena.