Prizm News / February 27, 2019 / By Bob Vitale
The former federal prosecutor and Police Board president led a 14-candidate field. She’ll now compete in an April 2 runoff.
By Bob Vitale
“This, my friends, is what change looks like,” Lori Lightfoot told supporters Tuesday night after finishing first among 14 candidates for mayor of Chicago.
The 56-year-old Ohio native—she grew up in Massillon, where she was president of the 1980 senior class at Washington High School—will compete next in an April 2 runoff against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
No matter who wins, Chicago will be led for the first time in its history by an African-American woman. Lightfoot, who is a lesbian, also would be the city’s first LGBTQ+ mayor.
She addressed a gathering of supporters as results came in Tuesday, standing with her wife and their daughter. Among those she thanked: LGBTQ organizations such as Equality Illinois, the Victory Fund and LPAC.
“As an LGBTQ+ person, I thought about running for mayor when no other LGBTQ+ person had ever made the ballot for mayor in this city,” she said. “As a mayoral candidate, I saw people who look like me and families like mine who are struggling in every neighborhood, struggling with repossessed cars and rising rent, with underfunded neighborhood schools and gun violence on their blocks so that too many of our young people are growing up with fear as their norm.”
“The way I see it, I’m not here despite these hardships, despite the odds. I’m here because my personal and professional experiences have prepared me to lead with compassion, integrity, and persistence.”
After growing up in Massillon and earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Lightfoot moved to Chicago in 1986 to attend the University of Chicago Law School. She’s a former federal prosecutor and former head of the city’s Police Board.
Lightfoot has cast her campaign as a contest against Chicago’s powerful political machine. She calls for greater government and police accountability; during her time on the its Police Board, officers were fired in 72 percent of the cases it heard.
Among the candidates she knocked out of the race was Bill Daley, whose father and brother were both mayors.
Lightfoot has spoken often of her family and childhood in Massillon, a city of 32,000 west of Canton. In celebrating her showing Tuesday against Chicago’s political establishment, she said: “It’s true that it’s not every day that a little black girl in a low-income family from a segregated steel town makes the runoff to be the next mayor of the third-largest city in the country.”
“As a high schooler I worked hard to keep my grades up as my parents worried about rent and car payments,” Lightfoot said. “My dad came home from one of his many jobs just to watch my mother leave to go out on the night shift.”
“My mother valued a good education above all for me and all of my siblings. But it wasn’t a lesson she had to deliver twice. I saw firsthand the value our society placed on hard work of poorly educated black men and women who were all around me as part of my community growing up. And as a college student I came home for Christmas break…to learn that my brother was in trouble again and headed to prison for most of his adult life.
“My father passed away while (my brother) was in prison, and I wish he could be here tonight to see this moment. His son is free and doing the best he can to build his life, and his daughter with a real chance to become the mayor of this great city.”