Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for re-election on Tuesday, February 28th, reflecting broad dissatisfaction with her handling of crime in the city.
Lightfoot failed to gain enough votes to advance in the race and will not move on to the April 4th runoff. Paul Vallas, a former education superintendent with more conservative views on crime and education, will face off against Brandon Johnson, a progressive county commissioner.
This ends Lightfoot’s historic run as the first openly gay and African-American woman to serve as mayor of Chicago. She is the first sitting mayor in over thirty years to lose re-election.
She faced a series of challenges since taking office. In 2019, she battled the extremely powerful teachers’ union, which resulted in an 11-day strike and closures of schools attended by 300,000 students. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic took an economic toll on the city, with increased unemployment and businesses struggling to survive.
The economy has since rebounded, but Lightfoot is left with little support. In the days before the election, Lightfoot told voters that crime was decreasing since the peak of the pandemic, but in 2022, robberies, thefts, and burglaries increased from 2021.
In her concession speech, Lightfoot stated that she “will be rooting and praying for our next mayor to deliver for the people of this city for years to come. I stand here with my head held high and a heart full of gratitude.”
The race has demonstrated the political divide that is becoming more prominent in large, liberal American cities. Hard-on-crime policies have increasingly resonated with voters. In this vein, Vallas stated, “The city clearly is in crisis and people want a crisis manager who can come in and focus on getting things done.”
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