City’s first Black lesbian mayor struggled to control crime
By Brody Levesque | Washington Blade
Courtesy National LGBT Media Association
Embattled Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday became the first city chief executive in four decades to lose a bid for reelection. Lightfoot’s term in office has been plagued by persistent crime in the city, including a high murder rate and unceasing gun violence.
The Associated Press projections in the nine person race showed the incumbent mayor failing to secure enough votes to move on to an April 4 runoff election.
NBC News reported that Paul Vallas, a former CEO of Chicago schools, will face Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union.
NBC noted that Lightfoot’s unfavorable ratings have soared with Chicagoans fed up with gun violence, as well as carjackings and robberies. And despite being the sitting mayor, she routinely failed to lead in recent polling, falling behind Vallas.
On the issue of crime, Chicago, under Lightfoot, in 2021 reached the highest number of killings in a quarter century, with 797 and more than 3,500 shootings — which was 1,400 more shooting incidents than were recorded in 2019 when Lightfoot first took office.
Lightfoot became the first openly lesbian, Black woman elected Chicago mayor four years ago claiming more than 70 percent of the vote. Lightfoot’s election made Chicago the largest city in the United States with an openly gay mayor.
During an exclusive interview with Washington Blade after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade last June, Lightfoot said in response to a question about how she feels about being the first Black lesbian mayor of a major U.S. city that there are now “so many more of us who are living our authentic lives.”
She added that she “didn’t see any role models that looked like me” and “didn’t see a lot of gay and lesbian leaders on a national level or even at the local level” when she was younger.
“One of the greatest gifts that we can give is to say to those young people, you’re going to be great,” she said. “Be who you are, embrace, embrace your authentic life. Because there’s always going to be a home for you. There’s going to be a village, a community that’s going to be supportive. That’s one of the things I think the most powerful statement that I can make as mayor, using my platform as mayor of the third largest city, to say to our young people, you’re always going to have a home here.”
Lightfoot lives in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood with her wife, Amy Eshleman, and their daughter.
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