Chicago mayor’s race: Runoff seems likely as Lori Lightfoot fights to hold on

HTML tutorial

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is fighting for reelection Tuesday after a history-making but tumultuous four years in office. A bruising campaign is threatening to make Lightfoot the city’s first one-term mayor in 40 years.

In 2019, Lightfoot became the first Black woman and first openly gay mayor of the third-largest U.S. city, and only the second woman to hold the office. But Lightfoot, a former prosecutor and head of a city police review board, now faces serious challenges from multiple candidates, who have hammered her over a spike in crime that began during the COVID-19 pandemic and a leadership style they say is unnecessarily combative.

With polls closed, none of the nine candidates is likely to receive over 50% of the vote to win the election outright. That would force an April runoff between the top two vote-getters. Lightfoot may not be among them.

Lightfoot has touted her record of investing in neighborhoods and supporting workers, such as by increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She also notes that the city has navigated unprecedented challenges, including the pandemic and its economic and public safety fallout, and protests over policing.

“The world is very different than it was four years ago. I believe that I’m still the right person and I think the voters will validate that, but we’ve been through a lot,” Lightfoot said after a rally on the city’s West Side during the final days before the election. “We can’t go back.”

Lightfoot’s top rivals include Paul Vallas, who has run as the law-and-order candidate with support from the city’s police union and promises to put hundreds more officers on the streets, and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who forced then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a runoff in 2015. Brandon Johnson is endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, a group that has tangled with Lightfoot, including during an 11-day teachers strike in her first year in office.

If Lightfoot loses Tuesday, she would be one of the few big-city mayors in recent history to lose a reelection bid. That’s particularly true in the first round of voting, when incumbents generally enjoy an advantage. But this election is unique because of the 10 largest U.S. cities, Chicago is the only place without mayoral term limits, which may make voters in other cities more willing to give an incumbent one more term.

Lightfoot also is the first mayor of a major U.S. city to face reelection following the pandemic, the recession and the crime wave that’s occurred in many places. Those factors weighed on some voters as they made their decisions Tuesday.

“Lori has had her chance,” said Lonnell Jolly, a 45-year-old customer service representative who lives on the West Side and voted for businessman Willie Wilson. “Since Lori Lightfoot has been in office, it seems like crime has gotten worse.”

Lindsey Hegarty, a 30-year-old paralegal who lives on Chicago’s North Side, said she backed Johnson because “he seemed like the most progressive candidate on issues like policing, mental health” and public transit.

Race also is a factor as candidates court votes in the highly segregated city, which is closely divided in population among Black, Hispanic and White residents. Lightfoot, Johnson and five other candidates are Black, though Lightfoot — who is hoping strong support from Black voters will help propel her to victory — has argued that she is the only Black candidate who can win. Garcia, the only Latino in the race, would be Chicago’s first Hispanic mayor, while Vallas is the only White candidate in the field.

Lightfoot has accused Vallas of using “the ultimate dog whistle” by saying his campaign is about “taking back our city,” and of cozying up to the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, whom she calls a racist. A recent Chicago Tribune story also found Vallas’s Twitter account had liked racist tweets and tweets that mocked Lightfoot’s appearance and referred to her as masculine.

Vallas said he wasn’t responsible for the liked tweets, which he called “abhorrent,” and suggested someone had improperly accessed his account.

But Lightfoot and some of her supporters see some of the criticism of her leadership as motivated by racism, sexism and anti-gay sentiment.

“No other mayor has been asked to change this city within four years,” said city Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, who is Black, and noted that White mayors like Emanuel and Richard Daley served multiple terms. “When we get in the game, the rules change.”

At a weekend campaign stop, Vallas said he is focused on things like public safety, Chicago’s “demoralized” police department and the number of residents “fleeing” the city’s school district.

“It’s all a product of bad leadership,” Vallas said.

A former city budget director who also led school systems in Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia, Vallas lost a 2019 bid for mayor. This time, he has been laser-focused on public safety, saying police officers who left the force under Lightfoot’s administration will return if he’s elected.

It seems to have resonated with voters, such as Antwoin Jackson, who are concerned about an uptick in crime. Jackson said he supported Lightfoot four years ago but cast his ballot for Vallas in Tuesday’s election because he said Lightfoot “did not hold control over the violence in the communities.” Jackson said he feels particularly unsafe when riding public transit.

Related Posts

pilots american airlines

Will a pilot strike disrupt summer travel plans?

Contract negotiations are keeping thousands of commercial pilots grounded at a time when the nation will soon be entering the busy summer travel season.  The union representing…

gettyimages 1252139760

PacWest shares crumble as Wall Street shuns midsize banks

In what is by now a familiar pattern, the fate of another regional lender hangs in the balance as investors bail from the sector following the sudden…

gettyimages 1486152320

New York becomes the first state to ban gas stoves in new residential building construction

New York bans natural gas in new buildings What New York’s natural gas ban means for other states 05:00 New York has officially become the first U.S….

atlanta shooting suspect

Atlanta active shooter: 1 killed, 3 injured in Midtown and no suspect in custody, police say

CBS News Live Live At least one person was killed and at least three others were injured in a shooting Wednesday at a medical building in Atlanta,…

0503 cbsm wgastrike preston 1936300 640x360

Film and TV production halted after Hollywood writers go on strike

Film and TV production halted after Hollywood writers go on strike – CBS News Watch CBS News The Writers Guild of America has gone on strike, disrupting…

gettyimages 1248351523

Hazardous sites in California at risk of severe flooding due to rising sea levels, study finds

More than 100 hazardous industrial sites on California’s coast are at risk of flooding severely — and spreading contaminants — due to rising sea levels if climate…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *