Laurie Lightfoot leaves complicated legacy after losing 2023 Chicago mayoral race – NBC Chicago


Mayor Laurie Lightfoot made history in 2019 when she became Chicago’s first black and openly gay female mayor, but she could make another history as she becomes the first president in the city’s history not to be promoted to second. round in April. determine the head of the city.

Lightfoot, who defeated Cook County Board Chairman Tony Preckwinkle to win the 2019 mayoral race, is currently in third place up for re-election, giving way to Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who appears to be seeking second place. and a place in the second round on April 4.

“Being mayor has been the honor of a lifetime,” Lightfoot said in his concession speech.

According to the Associated Press, former Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas is considered the front-runner, expected to finish in the top two in the race by evening.

Lightfoot is the first elected incumbent to lose a re-election bid in the city since Jane Byrne lost to Harold Washington in the 1983 race.

He is also the first mayor since the municipal vote became nonpartisan in 1999 without a runoff.

“Obviously, we didn’t win the election today, but I’m standing here with my head held high and my heart full of gratitude,” he told supporters. “There is still work to be done, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you.”

The 2019 race featured 14 candidates, and Lightfoot topped the race with 17.54% of the vote. He would later easily defeat Tony Preckwinkle in the runoff with 73.7% of the vote. He won all 50 city constituencies.

Lightfoot has navigated the city not only through one of the most tumultuous times in recent memory, but also through the tumultuous summer following the death of George Floyd.

Lightfoot credits his work during this pandemic with his administration’s policies that have helped keep residents safe, as well as his track record of new investments in organizations aimed at improving the lives of underserved communities on the city’s south and west sides. .

He also implemented a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

He has been criticized for rising violent crime in the city, with most candidates running on public safety platforms in the 2023 election.

Lightfoot points to statistics showing that most crime in the city has continued to decline, with homicides down 14% and shootings down 20%.

Lightfoot also focused on hiring more officers because of staffing issues.

Lightfoot has repeatedly clashed with the Chicago teachers union, including a multi-day strike in October 2019.

Lightfoot also led planning for a casino in the city, Bally’s Corporation won the right to build a new complex on the former site of the Chicago Tribune printing plant on the west bank of the Chicago River.

Lightfoot has been followed by other criticisms, including his handling of the deal to bring NASCAR to the city for road racing this summer, with aldermen complaining that he brokered the deal without being involved in the process.

The race will shut down parts of the city, including parts of Grant Park, for several weeks and could disrupt traffic around the July 4th holiday.

Of course, if the Chicago Bears rule the city, Lightfoot may also face the wrath of Chicagoans for generations. Despite trying to woo the team with renovation proposals for Soldier Field, the team has reached an agreement to purchase the Arlington International Raceway site in Arlington Heights and plans to build a new state-of-the-art stadium in the suburbs. .

He also faced the ire of environmentalists and community activists after a smokestack explosion at Hilco’s Little Village plant in 2020, which the inspector general’s report said his administration was aware of. possible action, a cloud of dust surrounding the plant.

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