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Lori Lightfoot, has been elected as the mayor by the voters of Chicago city, making her the first openly gay person and woman of colour to achieve this feat, reports The New York Times. 56-year-old Lightfoot, who is a practicing lawyer, is a former federal prosecutor. Her win means that for the first time in history of the city of more than 2.7 million residents, it will be led by a woman of colour.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lightfoot, who will be holding elected office for the first time, was facing off Toni Preckwinkle, a retired teacher who has served on the city council and county board of commissioners.
  • With more than 95% of precincts reporting results, Lightfoot had a commanding lead with 74% of the vote compared to Preckwinkle’s 26%, and was leading in all 50 City Council wards.
  • She is the first African-American woman and first openly gay person to serve the third-largest city in the US as a mayor.
  • There are seven other black women currently serving as mayors in U.S. cities, including New Orleans and Atlanta, and she will be only the second woman to lead Chicago.

Speaking after the polls closed on Tuesday, Lightfoot said, “This is not us versus them, or neighbourhoods versus downtown. We are in this together, and we will grow together,” Buzzfeed News reported.

“Today, you did more than make history,” Lightfoot told a packed ballroom, NY Times reported. “You created a movement for change.”

She further thanked her supporters, including her wife and daughter. Referring to the children witnessing her election she said, “They’re watching us, and they’re seeing the beginning of something, well, a little bit different. They’re seeing a city reborn, a city where it doesn’t matter what color you are and where it surely doesn’t matter how tall you are,” she said, joking about her own short stature.

“Where it doesn’t matter who you love just as long as you love,” she continued as the crowd cheered. “Where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love with all your heart.”

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Chicago Sets Yet Another Milestone

Chicago has already set milestones when it comes to inclusion in politics, firstly, sending the first African-American president, Barack Obama, to the White House; helping elect the first African-American woman to the United States Senate, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, in 1992 and making Harold Washington the city’s first black mayor in 1983.

Here’s what people are saying about her victory:

“It is tremendous,” said Josie Brown Childs, a civic leader who worked for Mr. Washington in the 1980s, NY Times reported. “But Chicago has been on the forefront of certain black politics, whether it was with Harold or Obama. We’ve been in the lead on those things.”

“For me, personally, I’m asking, ‘Who is going to be the break from politics as usual in Chicago?’” said Jordie Davies, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago. “I’m excited about two black women. But I’m looking at records. I’m looking at who is going to offer the most holistic platform for addressing problems in Chicago.”

Reactions on social media

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted,”Congratulations to @LightfootForChi on her win yesterday!! She is the first black woman and openly gay person to be elected Mayor of Chicago. Can’t wait to see her continue to fight for progress as Mayor.”

Former US President Barack Obama also congratulated Lightfoot, writing, “Great to see Chicago’s historic mayoral race between two highly qualified candidates. Congrats to our next mayor, Lori Lightfoot—and Toni Preckwinkle campaigned hard and did us proud. I know that with our city’s heart and Lori’s leadership, Chicago’s best days are still ahead.”

Another Twitter user Nate Moore tweeted, “What an inspiration to ALL of the young girls growing up in Massillon. Thank you for your example @LightfootForChi #TIG”

Feature Image Credit: AFP

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