Chicago elects Light­foot first black woman mayor

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS -

CHICAGO – At­tor­ney Lori Light­foot de­feated Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni Preck­win­kle in Tues­day’s elec­tion, mak­ing her Chicago’s first African-Amer­i­can fe­male mayor, ac­cord­ing to un­of­fi­cial re­turns.

Light­foot jumped out to an early lead over Preck­win­kle, a long­time po­lit­i­cal power bro­ker, and had what ap­peared to be an in­sur­mount­able lead.

Light­foot, a for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor mak­ing her first run for elected of­fice, had 74 per­cent to Preck­win­kle’s 26 per­cent, with nearly 80 per­cent of precincts re­port­ing, ac­cord­ing to un­of­fi­cial vote to­tals.

The two can­di­dates emerged from a record field of 14 can­di­dates in the Feb. 26 first-round elec­tion for the chance to be­come Chicago’s 56th mayor.

Light­foot be­comes the third African-Amer­i­can to serve as mayor. Harold Wash­ing­ton was elected in 1983 as the city’s first black mayor and won re-elec­tion in 1987 be­fore dy­ing in of­fice later that year. Eu­gene Sawyer, the city’s sec­ond black mayor, was ap­pointed to serve out Wash­ing­ton’s term un­til a 1989 spe­cial elec­tion.

Light­foot be­comes just the sec­ond woman elected mayor, fol­low­ing Jane Byrne, who served one term from 1979 to 1983. She also is the first per­son elected Chicago mayor not born in the city since An­ton Cer­mak took of­fice in 1931. Chicago also be­comes the largest U.S. city ever to elect an openly gay mayor.

Light­foot, 56, and Preck­win­kle, 72, re­peat­edly have ac­knowl­edged the his­toric na­ture of the cam­paign.

“I think about the chil­dren, and the city they will grow up in and what it will mean for young boys and girls to see lead­ers who look like them in the mayor’s of­fice. You know what they say, ‘You can­not be what you can­not see,’” Preck­win­kle, also the Cook County Demo­cratic Party chair, said dur­ing a rally be­fore hun­dreds of African-Amer­i­can vot­ers at a rally last month. “I hope this elec­tion tells them that no dream is too big or chal­lenge too great. And this is truly a his­toric mo­ment. Not long ago, the idea that two African-Amer­i­can women would be vy­ing for this spot would have been con­sid­ered im­pos­si­ble.”

In a re­cent speech to a few hun­dred black vot­ers at Rainbow/PUSH Coali­tion’s Ken­wood head­quar­ters, Light­foot noted the amount of time since Chicago elected Wash­ing­ton.

“We have the op­por­tu­nity to bring all parts of our city to­gether, to forge a new di­rec­tion for our city that wel­comes ev­ery­one to the ta­ble,” she said.

The cam­paign has boiled down to change versus ex­pe­ri­ence. Light­foot has touted her­self as a change agent at a time when City Hall is the fo­cus of a fed­eral pub­lic cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Preck­win­kle, mean­while, has em­pha­sized her nearly three decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­ern­ment and her background as first a teacher then a Chicago al­der­man.

Chicago has 10 per­cent more reg­is­tered vot­ers now than it did in 2015 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel de­feated chal­lenger Je­sus “Chuy” Garcia, thanks to an uptick in voter in­ter­est ahead of the 2018 midterm elec­tions.

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