Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is running out of offers for a second term

Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot lost his bid for a second term on Tuesday after failing to clinch one of the top two spots in the city’s nonpartisan mayoral race.

Since none of the nine mayoral candidates won an outright majority in the first round of voting, the top two voters will contest control of City Hall in a runoff on April 4.

Paul Vallas, the centrist, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and the only white candidate in the field, is now in a strong position to take the top job after finishing in first place on Tuesday.

Lightfoot’s loss is a blow to supporters who celebrated her victory as the city’s first black and openly gay woman to serve as mayor.

The result also reflects the fierce challenges facing major city mayors following the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, and a simultaneous increase in gun violence and violence. other forms of crime.

Lightfoot sought, unsuccessfully, to persuade voters that the city had begun to turn the page under his leadership and that his ousting would set back progress in uplifting inner city neighborhoods.

“What we’ve done through probably the biggest challenges this city has faced since the Great Fire [of 1871] it is that we have continued our march toward equity, inclusion and justice,” she said at a Feb. 9 press conference with black clergy supporting her re-election. “And we will not back down. We will not give up. We will move forward.

Lightfoot is Chicago’s first incumbent mayor to lose an election since 1989, when Eugene SawyerWHO had been named after the sudden death of then-mayor Harold Washington in 1987, lost his bid for a full term. Jane ByrneChicago’s first female mayor, was the city’s newest elected mayor from losing her race when she failed to win a second term in 1983.

With the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago’s police union, Vallas presented the most radical alternative to Lightfoot’s leadership for voters concerned about crime and public safety.

He argued that additional funding and a new mayor that police officers trust could help ‘slow the exodus’ of cops from the city and fill the Chicago Police Department’s backlog of 1,600 people over to its 2019 workforce.

“This election is about leadership, a crisis of leadership, because every problem the city has – whether it’s a degraded police department, crumbling schools, or property taxes, fines and fees ever-increasing – is actually the product of bad decisions on the fifth floor,” he said during a candidate debate on Feb. 9, referring to the Chicago City Hall floor that the mayor occupies “It didn’t start with this mayor, but it certainly got worse.”

Chicago mayoral candidate and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas speaks to the member of the media after casting his vote on February 28, 2023.

Kamil Krzaczynski via Getty Images

Lightfoot also faced audience burnout with his penchant for personal feuds that often dominated the headlines. She was at odds with the city’s right-wing police union as well as its progressive teachers’ union, a wide range of city council members and even the owners of the professional football Chicago Bears, who threatened to walk out of town.

Indeed, at times Lightfoot seemed to be besieged by critics from its ideological left and its ideological right without the mid-spectrum relationships to anchor it.

“Where is his base somewhere in Chicago?” U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), one of Lightfoot’s challengers, asked HuffPost in a Feb. 9 interview. “It’s not in the black community where you would think there would be a strong base. It’s not in the most progressive neighborhoods of Chicago today.

Lightfoot’s reputation for acrimony, combined with the persistence of property crime in the city even after murders peaked in 2021, cost him the support of upper-middle-class white voters who propelled his first candidacy onto the theme of the reform in 2019.

Linda Buckley, a retired businesswoman from River North, backed Lightfoot on the first ballot in 2019, but told HuffPost in mid-February she was deciding between Vallas and García.

“I don’t think she works well with people,” Buckley said.

Lightfoot lamented the sexism and racism that she said marked this kind of criticism of her style of government. And in the final weeks of her candidacy, she relentlessly sought to rally black chicagoans at his side, warning them of the consequences of losing one of their own on the stand.

Some residents responded to his call.

“She has been very clear about her intention to help build and bring black communities and those in need to the table where her predecessors have sidelined us,” Reverend Cy Fields said. , pastor of a Baptist church on the West Side. , said at the February 9 press conference in support of Lightfoot’s re-election.

But his task was made more difficult by the presence of six other black candidates on the ballot, including Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Johnson, a former Chicago Teachers Union organizer backed by his former employer, joined other progressives in accusing Lightfoot of failing to deliver on promised changes to the police, mental health and public school systems of the city.

“We’ve had mayors who have … capitulated again and again to the ultra-rich, the billionaires, and big business,” Johnson told HuffPost in a mid-February interview. “And look at the despair it caused!”

Lightfoot offered fellow Chicago liberals a road map to defeating Vallas in the second round. In the ads and on the stump, Lightfoot dubbed Vallas, a self-proclaimed “lifetime Democrat,” a “Republican” whose efforts to appeal to conservative white voters’ fears of crime were the “ultimate dog whistle.”

Vallas has ammunition to push back against these claims. He told HuffPost that he never considered running for county office as a Republican until 2009 so he wouldn’t have to deal with the grip of the Chicago machine.

But Vallas’ ties to right-wing groups like the Fraternal Order of Police have already proven to be a headache for him. At the end of February, he denounced the union’s decision to host Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) for a speech to its members.

Vallas’s history as a champion of charter schools and an enemy of teachers’ unions is, on its own, likely enough to unite much of progressive Chicago against him.

“Vallas is bad for Chicago,” said Stephanie Gadlin, a former Chicago Teachers Union official who supported García.

Electing him, Gadlin added, “would be the equivalent of hiring Count Dracula to run the blood bank.”

The Huffington Gt

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