Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to seek second term
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will ask voters to return her to City Hall for a second term as leader of the nation’s third-largest city, she announced Tuesday.
In a video announcing her re-election bid, Lightfoot sought to turn criticism that she’s too combative into a strength by promising to keep fighting for Chicagoans as she seeks a second term. By embracing her image as a political pugilist, Lightfoot is betting that Chicago voters will see her as a righteous fighter rather than someone who throws unnecessary hay.
“When we fight for change, confront a global pandemic, work to keep kids in school, confront guns and gangs, systemic inequality and political corruption only for powerful forces to try to stop Chicago’s progress — of course, I take it personally, for our city,” Lightfoot said. “Change does not happen without a struggle. It’s hard. It takes time. And, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most patient person. I’m only human, and I guess sometimes it shows. But just because some don’t always like my delivery doesn’t mean we don’t deliver.
Lightfoot’s announcement that she will seek re-election in the February 2023 mayoral race comes as no surprise. Despite the wishful thinking of some Lightfoot critics that she would step down from the race, the first-term mayor has long set herself up to defend her record and seek four more years in office.
The mayor currently faces five challengers, all of whom have raised questions about high crime and criticized his leadership as unnecessarily divisive. Their opponents so far include South Side Ald. Roderick Sawyer, son of a former mayor; former Chicago Public School CEO Paul Vallas; Illinois State Rep. Kam Buckner; Southwest side Ald. Raymond Lopez; and businessman Willie Wilson.
For more than three years in office, Lightfoot faced spikes in crime, failed to run an administration as transparent as promised, and engaged in constant battles with unions representing teachers and the police — all while struggling to forge good relationships with politicians or city leaders. business community.
His poll has struggled in recent months, especially with white and Latino voters, but the hard-charging mayor cannot be removed from office.
Lightfoot has quietly built a strong relationship with several key union leaders, who hail his progressive record on union issues such as the Fair Work Week Ordinance and a $15 minimum wage. Tenure, in any form, also has power. As mayor, Lightfoot earmarked about $3 billion in federal funds for city projects and she launched a series of programs aimed at reversing one of the biggest criticisms of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s tenure — divestment from neighborhoods. of Chicago, especially on its south and west sides.
Lightfoot can also argue that she deserves more time to complete the job after dealing with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and some of the city’s largest civil unrest since the 1960s.
Whoever becomes mayor of Chicago in 2023 will assume responsibility for a city struggling with serious financial problems, rampant gun violence and a troubling history of segregation that continues to exist and contribute to crime and inequity.
The next mayor will also navigate major changes to Chicago’s public schools, which will transition to an independent elected school board over the next few years. Lightfoot campaigned for an elected school board, but unsuccessfully tried to block a state law creating a 21-member body to oversee Chicago schools.
As a contestant in 2019, Lightfoot said she would be different from Emanuel and vowed not to lead with her “middle finger”. But as mayor, Lightfoot took an approach to governance that led Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, a longtime ally who has said she won’t support re-election for the mayor, to sum up her tenure this way: “I’ve never met someone who managed to piss off every single person with who he contacted. — police, firefighters, teachers, aldermen, businesses, factories.
Lightfoot has, at various times: accused Uber of “paying black ministers” to oppose ride-sharing taxes, without providing any evidence; told the aldermen “don’t come to me for s—-” if they didn’t support his budget; and confronted a teachers’ union activist by pointing his finger in the woman’s face as her personal assistant tried unsuccessfully to drag her away.
The popular consensus that Lightfoot is alienating large constituencies is a stark turn from the position she found herself in the April 2019 election runoff, when she won all 50 wards in a victory overwhelming against Cook County Council Chairman Toni Preckwinkle, who is also the head of the Cook. County Democratic Party.
But Lightfoot’s position with voters is more complex and always has been.
In the first round of the mayoral campaign in 2019, Lightfoot emerged from a historic field of 14 candidates with around 18% of the vote. While that was enough for him to take first place and advance to the final round against Preckwinkle, it still shows that 4 out of 5 voters in that first round chose someone else. In that first February 2019 election, Lightfoot enjoyed broad support from North Side Lakeside voters, who are often liberal. This time, the mayor is expected to be strongest with African American voters – but that could be complicated by the field including strong black alternatives.
Wilson, in particular, could be a challenge to Lightfoot’s fortunes as he won most black quarters in 2019 and helped boost his campaign on the South and West sides with his endorsement in the second round.
Buckner released a statement on Tuesday calling Lightfoot “completely ill-equipped to lead Chicago” and saying she had “no strategic vision to make the people of Chicago safer.”
“Carjackings and violence are at record levels, economic divestment is drying up our neighborhoods, our schools are under-resourced, our police department is overburdened and understaffed. Instead of a public safety plan, she raised bridges, erected barricades and demanded curfews,” Buckner said.
Lightfoot’s re-election announcement was also criticized by the Chicago Teachers Union, which tore it up for partially balancing the city budget by asking the school district to cover retirement payments traditionally paid by the city hall.
“The mayor is launching her re-election bid by balancing the city budget on the backs of children who need more instead of less,” the union, which is expected to back another candidate, said in a statement. “Chicago voters need to understand that this budget is unacceptable and is another example of failed leadership.”