Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Mayor
April 8, 2019
On Tuesday, April 2nd, Lori Lightfoot won the Chicago runoff election by a landslide with over 70% of the votes, making history as the first openly gay African-American woman to be elected mayor of Chicago. Lightfoot beat her opponent Toni Preckwinkle in every single ward in Chicago, which made for a historic election.
Following her campaign kickoff in May of 2018, Lightfoot rose to popularity after her opponent got involved in a corruption scandal regarding her campaign funds. Preckwinkle received illegal campaign funding from fast food executive Shoukat Dhanani, who was allegedly coerced into donating those funds by Edward M. Burke. Burke was arrested for corruption by the FBI in early 2019 and Preckwinkle had to return nearly $100,000 from the incident.
Lightfoot was endorsed by several former candidates from the election, which helped boost her popularity and ultimately helped her win the election. But her message of solidarity and the end of corruption touched the hearts and souls of the people in Chicago. Lightfoot announced during her victory speech, “We can and we will break this city’s endless cycle of corruption and never again — never ever — allow politicians to profit from elected positions.”
Lightfoot was raised by a low-income family, her mother working in healthcare and nursing homes, and her father working many jobs at once to try and provide for his family: in factories, as a janitor, and as a barber. But her parents always focused on education for their children. According to Lori Lightfoot’s campaign website, “[Lightfoot’s mother,] Ann Lightfoot, constantly pushed Lori to excel and not to use her race, gender, or economic status as an excuse for anything short of excellence. As a result, Lori thrived academically and earned acceptance to the University of Michigan, where she graduated with honors.” She understood the hard work that everyday citizens have to endure and how it can affect families, and used that message to rally voters in Chicago.
Lightfoot married former Chicago Public Library employee, Amy Eshleman, and adopted a child. Lightfoot stresses the message of safeguarding the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community, being a part of the community herself.
During her victory speech after being elected, she gave a touching address to the people of Chicago, saying, “Today, you did more than make history. You created a movement for change.” She continued on by explaining, “You know, when we started this journey eleven months ago, nobody gave us much of a chance. We’re up against a powerful interest, a powerful machine, and a powerful mayor. But I remembered something Martin Luther King said when I was very young. ‘Faith,’ he said, ‘it’s taking the first step when you can’t see the staircase.’”
All of Lightfoot’s policies and plans for various issues, including economic development, public health, advancing arts and culture, a clean environment, and LGBTQ+ policy, are on her website: https://lightfootforchicago.com