Lightfoot wins all 50 Chicago wards. Black women now control Chicago’s four top-elected offices
By Frederick H. Lowe
Chicago voters on Tuesday elected Lori Lightfoot the city’s first black woman mayor by a surprisingly wide margin over rival Toni Preckwinkle in an election with a very low voter turnout.
Lightfoot, who has never held an elected office, won 366, 573 or 73.7 % of the votes to Preckwinkle’s 130, 607 or 26.3 % of the votes cast, which was a landslide over Preckwinkle, the president of the Cook County Board and the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party. She is also a former Chicago alderman.
The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners reported that 1,592, 658 individuals were registered and therefore eligible to vote in Tuesday’s election, but the voter turnout was tepid. It was as high as 32.7 % in some Chicago wards and as low as 22.3% in other neighborhoods.
Lightfoot’s election means black women will control the four top offices in the nation’s third largest city.
Lightfoot will be mayor. Preckwinkle will remain president of the Cook County Board. Kim Foxx is Cook County State’s Attorney and State Representative Melissa Conyears-Ervin was elected city treasurer in Tuesday’s election.
Preckwinkle was stunned by the election results and was near tears at moments during her concession speech.
Lightfoot, who grew up in the steel manufacturing town of Massillon, Ohio, thanked her deceased father who has wanted to become a lawyer. She said her father was looking down on her.
Lightfoot, a former federal attorney, and partner in Mayer Brown, a white-shoe law firm, had been considered a long shot when she entered the primary. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and The University of Chicago Law School.
Lightfoot won the crowded primary over Preckwinkle after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would not seek reelection.
She continued to gather endorsements that opened the doors to the fifth floor of Chicago City Hall, becoming Chicago’s 56th mayor. She will be sworn into office May 20.
Lightfoot is an open lesbian, married to Amy Eshelman. The two have a 10-year-old daughter, Vivian. The fact that blacks voted for her challenged the unsubstantiated view pushed by others that African Americans do not want anything to do with gay people. Some do, and some don’t, but that also applies to whites, Hispanics and Asians.
Lightfoot is the third black person to hold the title of Chicago mayor. The first was Harold Washington, who was elected in 1983. Eugene Sawyer was appointed mayor following Washington’s sudden death in 1988. Sawyer served the city in that capacity from December 2, 1988 to April 24, 1989.