Lori Lightfoot: What challenges lie forward for Chicago’s new mayor?

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Media captionNew Chicago mayor’s message on race, love… and top

Chicago made historical past on Tuesday by electing Lori Lightfoot, town’s first brazenly homosexual, black feminine mayor.

In a historic battle between two black feminine candidates, the 56-year-old Democrat defeated Toni Preckwinkle, a longtime Chicago politician who has led the native Democratic occasion.

Ms Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who has by no means held political workplace earlier than, will exchange Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s chief of workers and town’s mayor for almost a decade.

Mr Obama, who as soon as served within the Illinois state legislature, congratulated Ms Lightfoot.

Ms Lightfoot additionally carries the mantle of Harold Washington, town’s first black mayor who served from 1983 to his dying in 1987. And with African People making up round 30% of town’s inhabitants, it is notable that Chicago hasn’t seen a black mayor because the 1980s.

“She impressed hope, even optimism, however she’ll face strain to ship, or danger disappointing the individuals who backed her,” says Peter Slevin, a professor at Northwestern College’s Medill College of Journalism and former Chicago bureau chief for the Washington Put up.

“In Lightfoot, Chicago voters positioned an enormous guess that a political outsider can do what a protracted line politicians couldn’t, and that is ship a safer metropolis with higher faculties and extra funding in forgotten neighbourhoods.”

Chicago elects black homosexual girl as mayor

However the job of main the nation’s third largest metropolis comes with its challenges. Listed below are a few of the points Ms Lightfoot will face when she takes workplace.


A February report utilizing Division of Justice knowledge by the College of Illinois discovered that Chicago was probably the most corrupt US metropolis, based mostly on the variety of corruption convictions from 1976 to 2017.

Over 30 metropolis council members have been linked to corruption instances in that point. In January, town’s longest-serving alderman Edward Burke was charged with tried extortion for allegedly making an attempt to make use of his political place to drive enterprise at his personal regulation agency.

The 14th Ward Democrat, who has denied the allegations, gained his re-election in February regardless of the fees.

His case, nonetheless, had a huge impact on the mayoral race. Ms Preckwinkle’s affiliation with Mr Burke hindered her prospects, Lynn Candy, the Chicago Solar-Instances’ Washington Bureau Chief, instructed the BBC.

“There’s this unfolding corruption scandal that is happening concurrently the mayoral marketing campaign, and that additionally has been an element that has helped Lightfoot emerge from the crowded subject.”

Ms Candy provides that this new mayor might want to foster productive relationships with a metropolis council with many new members – together with some new faces who “might really feel emboldened, creating a brand new dynamic”.

Throughout a debate final month, Ms Lightfoot promised Chicagoans she would ship town’s corrupt political machine “to its grave, as soon as and for all”.

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Supporters hear as the brand new mayor celebrates her win

Gun and gang violence

Regardless of strict gun legal guidelines inside Illinois, Chicago’s gun violence continues to make nationwide headlines as weapons pour in from neighbouring states. The town’s shootings have lengthy been utilized by gun-rights advocates as proof that strict legal guidelines don’t cease violence.

Chicago Police introduced a 24% discount in shootings to date this yr, constructing on tendencies from 2018.

The division’s report for 2018 noticed a 15% drop within the variety of murders – the largest discount of any main US metropolis. Murders because of a taking pictures have declined 31% within the metropolis since 2016, police stated.

As part of an initiative between police and Mayor Emanuel, within the final two years, the division has employed over 1,000 extra officers, obtained new know-how and opened new strategic resolution assist centres throughout town.

However there’s nonetheless a way of frustration that Ms Lightfoot might want to handle – notably given her former function as head of Chicago’s police board and accountability taskforce.

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Media captionLife and dying on the misplaced streets of Chicago

Police reform

“As town’s homicide toll rose, an rising variety of Chicagoans, particularly African People, misplaced religion within the police division,” Prof Slevin says.

In 2014, the killing of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, by a white police officer sparked nationwide outrage and protests of police brutality. The incident led to a federal investigation of town’s police that discovered a sample of racial discrimination and use of extreme pressure by Chicago police.

This January, a federal choose accepted a plan for dozens of reforms for Chicago’s police pressure that was compiled by town and the state lawyer basic, with enter from the general public and police. The areas of reform embody officer coaching, disaster intervention, psychological well being and use-of-force insurance policies, WBEZ reported.

“Lightfoot was distinguished in calling for police reforms and now she’ll need to discover a option to observe by,” Prof Slevin says. “She instructed voters that she desires police to work extra carefully with residents and to be held accountable after they break the foundations.”

Whereas she chaired the Chicago Police Board, the civilian group fired round 75% of officers accused of misconduct – in comparison with 40% in prior years, based on the Chicago Tribune.

And within the wake of the Jussie Smollett alleged hoax case, the nationwide eye has as soon as once more turned to Chicago’s police and justice departments.

Ms Candy says the brand new mayor will most likely be tasked with serving to transfer ahead in a productive manner from that case.

“The following massive resolution will likely be whether or not or not the present police Superintendent, Eddie Johnson, is stored on.”

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The Washington Put up by way of Getty Photos

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Almost half of Chicago’s faculties ranked as underperforming final yr

Failing faculties

In 2018, near half of Chicago faculties had been underperforming by the state’s new accountability system, based on the Illinois Report Card.

Of these, 40% had been excessive faculties, and almost all the underperforming faculties had been on town’s South Aspect, which is primarily populated by the African-American group, schooling information website Chalkbeat reported.

“Tens of 1000’s of black residents moved out of town, in reality, to flee violence and substandard faculties,” Prof Slevin says.

However in fixing faculties together with different points of Chicago’s public companies and infrastructure, Ms Lightfoot must work with a decent funds, he provides.

“She will not have a lot cash to play with, given town’s funds deficit and its underfunded pensions.”

And the mayor’s workplace continues to be recovering from public backlash over the 2013 resolution to shutter 50 public faculties in predominantly African-American neighbourhoods – the most important faculty closure within the metropolis’s historical past.

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SAUL LOEB/Getty Photos

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As mayor, Rahm Emanuel had a sure “star energy” given his connection to former President Barack Obama

Public picture

Because the third largest US metropolis, Chicago boasts world title recognition, however views of the Windy Metropolis are usually not all the time beneficial, marred by associations with gun violence and corruption.

“One of many jobs of the mayor is to promote town to the world,” Ms Candy says. “Chicago goes to lose star energy with the departure of Rahm Emanuel.”

Mr Emanuel, who was former President Barack Obama’s first chief of workers, “has a bigger than life persona” along with being a mainstay on nationwide tv, Ms Candy notes.

“It stays to be seen whether or not the brand new mayor can add some pizzazz on their very own to have the ability to promote – to proceed to promote – Chicago to the nation and the world.”

Chicago’s voters have indicated they’re prepared for large adjustments.

Shifting ahead now, Ms Candy says: “The problem of the brand new mayor is to unite town behind her.”

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