Tuesday saw voters in Chicago elect their new mayor in the form of Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who had never held elective office.
The resounding victory of Lightfoot – who won in overwhelming margins – was extremely well-received, considering that she, as the first African-American woman and first openly gay person to serve as Chicago’s mayor went toe-to-toe with a member of the Daley political dynasty, the head of the county’s Democratic Party, a former leader of Chicago’s public school system.
It's understood that Lightfoot’s pledge to combat political corruption and gun violence resonated across the city’s traditional dividing lines of race and class. She received 73% of the vote and was leading in all 50 City Council wards.
“We were up against powerful interests,” Lightfoot said in a victory speech, with her wife and young daughter by her side.
“Today, you did more than make history,” she said as supporters chanted her name on Tuesday night. “You created a movement for change.”
Since 1837, Chicago voters have elected only one black mayor and one female mayor before Tuesday.
While she never served in elected office, Lightfoot received appointments from Mayors Emanuel and Richard M. Daley. She served as president of the Chicago Police Board, headed the police department Office of Professional Standards and the city’s Police Accountability Task Force.
She promised to rid City Hall of corruption and help low-income and working-class people she said had been “left behind and ignored” by Chicago’s political ruling class.
"Together we can and will make Chicago a place where your zip code doesn’t determine your destiny,” Lightfoot told a cheering crowd at her victory party. “We can and we will break this city’s endless cycle of corruption and never again — never ever — allow politicians to profit from elected positions.”
Chicago will become the largest US city to have a black woman serve as mayor when Lightfoot is sworn in on 20 May.
She will join seven other black women currently serving as mayors in major US cities, including Atlanta and New Orleans.