Lori Lightfoot says being Chicago mayor was ‘honour of a lifetime’ after losing re-election

xCHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 28: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at an election night rally at Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council on February 28, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. Lightfoot lost in her bid for a second term, trailing former public schools executive Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson, a county board commissioner, both of whom advance to a runoff election on April 4. (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)

Chicago’s first Black, gay woman mayor Lori Lightfoot has lost her bid for a second term, with voters appearing to air their dissatisfaction with her handling of violent crime. 

Lori Lightfoot’s loss makes her the first Chicago mayor in more than 30 years to lose a re-election campaign. 

Despite having little political experience, the former US assistant attorney was elected in 2019 with a large majority after winning all 50 wards in America’s third largest city. 

The win saw her sworn in as the first Black and openly gay woman to serve Chicago as mayor and, at the time, she promised “reform” and “change” for the city, its people and the government. 

However, during the pandemic her popularity waned due to a spike in violent crime, including murder and robbery. 

Her tenure was also swamped with abuse from homophobic and racist critics, one of whom, in an online rant, slammed her for marrying a woman.

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Voters dissatisfaction with her handling of crime appeared to be reflected in the polls, as on Tuesday (28 February) Democrat Lightfoot came third – out of nine candidates – behind Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson. 

Following her defeat, Lori Lightfoot told supporters: “I am grateful that we took on the machine and entrenched forces that held this city back for too long.” 

On Twitter, she wrote: “Serving as your mayor has been the honour of a lifetime, and I am so grateful to all of you who have stood beside me these last four years. We’ve made significant progress building a safer, more equitable city. I thank each and every one of you for believing in me.”

Both Vallas and Brandon advance to the 4 April runoff where they will compete for the top job. 

Vallas, a former public schools executive, scored around 35 per cent in the first-round vote compared with Johnson’s 20 per cent. 

As the BBC reported, Vallas has been endorsed by the city’s largest police union and has said he will remove the current police superintendent, as well as boost police officer numbers across Chicago.