Chicago Set to Make History This Week
Chicago voters tomorrow will make history and elect the city’s first Black woman Mayor. The contest between Lori Lightfoot, a 56-year-old former federal prosecutor, and Toni Preckwinkle, the 71-year-old president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, has gotten increasingly heated the past couple of months. They both present themselves as progressives who will focus on safety, schools, and jobs in the city’s neighborhoods, and address the needs of South and West side communities desperate for investment as well as rapidly gentrifying areas extending from downtown where housing costs are soaring. They have also pledged to offer city contracts to minority-owned businesses. But the two candidates have also tried to cast each other as part of the city’s troubled political machine. Preckwinkle, who is running behind, calls Lightfoot “the ultimate insider” for accepting appointments in the Bill Daleyand Rahm Emanuel administrations. Lightfoot hit Preckwinkle for chairing the Cook County Democratic Party and receiving fundraising help from Alderman Ed Burke, who was charged in federal court in January with attempted extortion of a Burger King franchisee in his ward. At their first one-on-one debate, Lightfoot called Preckwinkle “sad and pathetic” and accused her of lying that she had received the endorsements of two City Councilmembers who are backers of Donald Trump. Lightfoot, who would be the city's first openly LGBTQ Mayor, questioned whether Preckwinkle "was blowing some kind of dog whistle" to conservative voters after the County Board President brought up her sexual orientation at a debate. The next Mayor faces a massive set of challenges, from the violence that has claimed thousands of lives to rising property taxes that fall disproportionately on the least wealthy Chicagoans. The two women who finished first and second in the initial round of voting in February attracted support from very different parts of the city. Civil rights leaders have called on them to sign a unity pledge to calm tensions after Tuesday’s election. More here.