Left: Toni Preckwinkle, Right: Lori Lightfoot | Photo courtesy of respective campaigns.
On Tuesday, Chicago voters headed to the polls for a special mayoral election. Out of a pool of 14 candidates, two Black women were chosen to square off in an April runoff that will determine who replaces Rahm Emanuel as the next CEO of Chicago.
Whether Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle or former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot win, they will make history as the first African-American woman to preside over the nation’s third-largest city. As reported by the New York Times, only one other woman has held the position of mayor in the city of Chicago. Additionally, if Lightfoot pulls off a victory, she will become the first openly gay mayor.
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Preckwinkle, who received the second-highest number of votes according to the Associated Press, is a former Chicago Public Schools educator and served nearly two decades on City Council. According to NPR, education was a major focus for her campaign along with the need to reform the Chicago Police Department.
In recent years, civil rights violations and allegations of police misconduct have plagued the department. In 2014, the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by a White officer further put the CPD under a microscope. Top vote-getter, Lightfoot, also used her campaign to address the need for things to change.
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“There’s been nobody in the city that’s been a more vocal, persistent, demanding advocate for police reform and accountability than I have,” Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune.
Lightfoot, who was vocal about her sexual orientation on the campaign trail, made it a point to share with Chicago residents that if chosen to lead, she would “build a Chicago City government that represents and defends every person, no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Because neither woman was able to garner 50 percent of votes, Chicago residents will head back to the polls on April 2, 2019, to determine their next mayor.
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