Who Is Lori Lightfoot? 5 Facts To Know About Chicago's First Black Woman Mayor
In a historic win on Tuesday night, Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s first Black woman mayor, beat opponent Toni Preckwinkle in a landslide victory. Not only did Lightfoot make history as the first African American woman to hold the seat, but she is now also the first openly gay mayor of the city, according to NBC News.
The first-timer in office is new to politics but has lived a lifetime committed to social justice and equity, according to Lightfoot's campaign website. For instance, as she notes on her bio, she was awarded the Champion of Justice Award in 2018 by The Common Cause and in 2017 she was named a “woman of influence” by the Chicago Business Journal. She has also won multiple awards for her service as a lawyer to the Chicago community, including the Chicago Federal Bar Association Walter J. Cummings Award for pro bono service in 2017 and BPI's Champion of the Public Interest Award in the same year.
But Lightfoot’s extensive accomplishments are not limited to her mayoral win last night nor are they defined only by her long list of awards. After an impressive Election Day in which Lightfoot, 56, won all 50 wards in Chicago’s mayoral race, according to the Chicago Tribune, here's everything you need to know about Lori Lightfoot.
She Is Many “Firsts” For Chicago
Not only is she the first Black female mayor of the city, but she is also the first openly gay mayor to hold the position, according to The New York Times.
Following night of her win, executive director of LPAC, an organization that seeks to empower LGBTQ women, Stephanie Sandberg told The New York Times, “Now young queer women and women of color can see themselves reflected in a position of major political leadership.”
Lightfoot is also Chicago’s first female mayor since the 80s, according to People.
She Held The Chicago Police Department Accountable
The mayor-elect has held various government positions in the city of Chicago, but one of the most notable remains her time as president of the Chicago Police Board. Lightfoot replaced the 19-year incumbent Demitrius Carney after Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to the position in 2015, according to The Chicago Citizen.
During her time, she was also appointed to be the chair of a special Police Accountability Task Force in the aftermath of the murder of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old African American teenager who was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2016, the task force, led by Lightfoot, filed a report critiquing the police department’s practices regarding race and recommended sweeping changes, according to the Chicago Tribune.
She Is Not A Chicago-Insider — & That May Be A Good Thing
Although she is now the mayor-elect of Chicago set to be sworn in this May, Lightfoot was not born in the city. Born in Ohio, Lightfoot earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Michigan and pursued law at the University of Chicago, as noted by The Detroit News.
Now, according to The New York Times, Lightfoot’s resounding win as an outsider to the city may be a signal of Chicago’s willingness to move away from a political culture that rewards insiders. "For many voters, the notion that someone with no political ties might become mayor of Chicago seemed an eye-opening counterpoint to a decades-old, often-repeated mantra about this city’s political order: 'We don’t want nobody nobody sent,'" The New York Times pointed out.
She Beat A Political Incumbent Entrenched In Politics
Her win on Tuesday night was not only a remarkable victory, but Lightfoot also emerged victor over William “Bill” Daley, according to Newsweek.
Daley’s famous family comes from a background entrenched in politics, with his father and brother serving as mayor for over 40 years, according to NBC News. With Daley coming in third during the mayoral race with only 14.8 of the vote, as the Washington Examiner reported, Lightfoot beat a political legend.
Lightfoot's Policies Are For The People
Among Lightfoot's most pertinent issues are investing in neighborhood schools, curbing neighborhood violence which she describes as a "public health crisis" and expanding affordable housing options while fighting gentrification, according to her campaign site. As mayor, she looks forward to investing in community resources and supporting small women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
Lightfoot’s accomplishment last night is not only a win for her, but a win for women, African Americans, and members of the LGBTQ community. Her seat as mayor of Chicago and her overwhelming victory serves as a sign of hope, a shifting political culture, and a unifying voice to look forward to this spring.