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Chicago’s first Black & lesbian mayor Lori Lightfoot loses reelection bid

Chicago’s first Black & lesbian mayor Lori Lightfoot loses reelection bid
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Photo: Provided

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D), the first Black woman and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to hold the office, has lost her bid for reelection. She failed to garner a simple majority of votes on Tuesday, making her the city’s first sitting mayor not to win a second term in 40 years.

As The New York Times notes, Lightfoot’s popularity suffered as crime in Chicago spiked during the pandemic.

“I will be rooting and praying for our next mayor to deliver for the people of this city for years to come,” Lightfoot said late Tuesday night in her concession speech.

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas (D) and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D) will now face off in April’s runoff election.

With 34 percent of the vote on Tuesday, Vallas led the crowded field and was the first candidate projected to advance to the runoff, according to The Hill. Running as a Democrat, Vallas courted conservative voters with a law-and-order message. He’s called for bolstering the police force and has been endorsed by the local Fraternal Order of Police whose controversial president, John Catanzara, resigned from the Chicago Police Department in 2021 amid accusations of misconduct and hateful social media posts, including one transphobic meme posted to Facebook in 2019.

Johnson, who has been endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, won 20 percent of Tuesday’s vote.

Both Democrats courted the LGBTQ+ vote, with Johnson promising to “champion LGBTQ rights as human rights, and be a visible and vocal ally to creating safety and equal opportunity for the LGBTQ community,” as well as enacting “policies that address all of the issues that impact members of the LGBTQ community regardless of ability, age, ethnicity/race, faith, gender expression, immigrant status, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status,” according to his campaign website.

Vallas, meanwhile, earned the endorsement of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and touted his support for domestic partner benefits for Chicago school employees and his support for marriage equality long before it became politically popular. But he was criticized by LGBTQ+ groups Equality Illinois, the Victory Fund, LPAC LGBTQ+ (a political action committee supporting queer women) for attending an event for Awake Illinois last June, a group that has been criticized for its anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Vallas later condemned the group, saying “I am a lifelong Democrat who has spent my entire adult life fighting hateful rhetorical and hateful groups.”

Lightfoot reportedly called both Vallas and Johnson to congratulate them on Tuesday night.

In her concession speech, Lightfoot spoke directly to young people of color and “every kid who felt like I did when I grew up.”

“I told you [four years ago] that anything is possible with hard work, and I want you to know that no matter what happened along the way, you should always believe that because it’s true,” she said. “Believe that you can bring about change. Believe that you matter and believe that you can love who you want to love and do what you want to do and be who you want to be. You will not be defined by how you fall. You will be defined by how hard you work and how much you do good for other people.”

“I stand here with my head held high and a heart full of gratitude,” Lightfoot said.

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