Lightfoot Triumphs Over Preckwinkle in Runoff Election

Photo courtesy of Daniel O'NeillLightfoot defeated Preckwinkle in a historic race to become Chicago’s first African American female and openly gay mayor.

Lori Lightfoot defeated Toni Preckwinkle in an April 2 runoff election following a long campaign to become Chicago’s 56th mayor.

Lightfoot captured 73.7 percent of the vote, compared to Preckwinkle’s 26.3 percent, according to results from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners with 97 percent of precincts reporting. Lightfoot is slated to become Chicago’s first African American female and openly gay mayor, and this is her first time being elected into public office.

Chicago lawyer Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Preckwinkle faced off after the highly contested Feb. 26 primary. None of the original 14 candidates were able to secure 51 percent of the vote, resulting in the two frontrunners competing in the April runoff.

Of those registered to vote in Chicago, only 29.3 percent of eligible voters turned out for the runoff election, according to results from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Four Loyola graduates initially ran for Chicago mayor: Bill Daley, Gery Chico, Jerry Joyce and LaShawn Ford, The Phoenix reported.

Lightfoot’s victory follows current mayor Rahm Emanuel’s September announcement stating he wouldn’t seek reelection.

In addition to her experience as an attorney, Lightfoot, 56, has most notably worked as the president of the Chicago Police Board and as the chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.

Following the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald on Chicago’s Southwest side, Emanuel appointed Lightfoot to the Police Accountability Task Force to look into the practices of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), which eventually led to an investigation of CPD by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lightfoot was vocal throughout her campaign about her intentions to improve the quality of public school education, reform CPD, prevent gun violence and make Chicago a more affordable place to live, among other issues, according to her campaign website.

In her April 2 victory speech, Lightfoot spoke about the chance she took when running for mayor.

“When we started this journey 11 months ago, nobody gave us much of a chance,” Lightfoot said. “We were up against powerful interests, a powerful machine and a powerful mayor. But I remember something Martin Luther King said when I was very young. ‘Faith,’ he said, ‘is taking the first step when you can’t see the staircase.’”

Preckwinkle, 71, has also served as an alderman and teacher in Chicago, according to her campaign website. She focused her platform on improving Chicago’s public school system by reducing the number of school closures and pushing for an elected school board. She also emphasized increasing the quality of public safety and justice in the police department, among other issues.

She’ll be returning to her role as the Cook County Board president following the defeat. In her April 2 concession speech, she mentioned the things her campaign accomplished.

“It’s not simply about gender or race, but about values,” Preckwinkle said. “That’s historic, that’s something to be proud of. The work we’ve done, the values we fought for, that doesn’t end tonight.”

Preckwinkle has been criticized for her alleged associations with 14th Ward alderman Ed Burke. A federal case unsealed in January revealed charges of attempted extortion against Burke for trying to use his political status to gain business at his law firm.

Burke specifically held up city approval for a Burger King’s renovations to get the owner to hire his law firm. He also allegedly attempted to get the owner to donate to Preckwinkle’s 2018 campaign for Cook County Board president.

The alderman sat on Loyola’s Council of Regents before his name was removed from its website, The Phoenix reported.

Preckwinkle’s campaign said the money was returned and she’s said she knew nothing about the alleged shakedown.

Throughout her campaign, Lightfoot criticized Preckwinkle for taking part in corrupt politics.

“You have aspired to climb the ladder of the broken and corrupt machine,” Lightfoot said in a March 27 CBS Chicago debate. “That’s a problem and that’s exactly what people see.”

During her advancement speech Feb. 26, Preckwinkle said Lightfoot has been appointed to several roles under Emanuel and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, implying Lightfoot might not be as independent as she makes herself out to be.

However, in her victory speech, Lightfoot said she and Preckwinkle are planning to work together.

“Toni and I were competitors, but our differences are nothing compared to what we can achieve together,” Lightfoot said. “Now that it’s over, I know that we will work together for the city that we both love.”

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