History was made last night: Lori Lightfoot was elected as our new mayor, which makes her the first black mayor, who is also openly lesbian. She also is a longtime Logan Square resident, which you all probably know by now.
She led the polls by over 74 percent, with 358,025 votes, according to the Board of Elections. Toni Preckwinkle fell behind quickly and received only 26 percent of the votes. Lightfoot led in every single ward, also a historic victory—though voter turnout still was not too high, with about 34 percent (including after mail-in ballots are counted and finalized votes settle in two weeks).
Her campaign held an election watch party at the Hilton Hotel downtown, where thousands of supporters cheered her name and held up signs when she came to the stage to deliver her victory speech. She focused on the historical moment of the election, thanked her parents and upbringing, her family’s support and perhaps, most importantly, noted the work Chicago has to do to make it welcome to everyone and end
“We will make sure Chicago is a place that will welcome immigrants for the next 150 years,” Lightfoot said.
Then she talked about ways to keep people in the city and not leave in what people have been calling an Illinois Exodus. According to the Chicago Tribune, the number of residents fleeing Illinois for other states jumped to 93,704 in 2014 from 68,204 the previous year. It increased in 2015 to 106,544, and in 2016 to 109,941. There was more exodus in 2017 of 114,779 and last year, another 114,154 left.
“If we make our streets safer, our businesses more prosperous, our neighborhoods safer, people will want to stay,” she said.
Lightfoot was part of a bigger historical moment in Chicago politics as well. For the first time ever, three women will lead Chicago’s executive branch: Lightfoot as mayor, Melissa Conyears-Ervin as Treasurer and Anna Valencia as City Clerk, who won her reelection bid.
Lightfoot shared inspiration with the crowd before continuing the public celebration, which had guestbooks for residents to sign to let Lightfoot know what they hope she can accomplish. She bowed her head to all the young children and future leaders who watched her speech and were part of the campaign, with a special message for them.
“They are seeing a city reborn, where it doesn’t matter what color skin you are and it certainly doesn’t matter how tall you are,” Lightfoot said, with a laugh. “It doesn’t matter who you love as long as you love.”
Featured image: A Lori Lightfoot campaign sign sits at Palmer and Humboldt.