In a stunning upset, Chicago voters have ousted incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot in favor of two of her challengers. Even though the next mayor of Chicago will still be a Democrat, it is a huge blow to Lightfoot, who completely ran the Windy City into the ground.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot conceded defeat Tuesday night, effectively ending her bid for a second term and paving the way for Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to challenge former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a visibly shaken Lightfoot conceded the race, saying she will “pray that our next mayor will deliver for the people of this city.”
Following her defeat, Lightfoot also took to Twitter to say, “Serving as your mayor has been the honor 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.”
As noted by NBC News, Lightfoot is the first incumbent elected Chicago mayor to lose re-election in 40 years.
According to unofficial preliminary results posted by the Chicago Board of Elections Tuesday night, Vallas led the field of nine candidates with 34% of the vote. As results began to roll in, Johnson secured the second spot with just over 20% of the vote, while Lightfoot trailed with 17%.
Throughout the divisive campaign, Vallas and Johnson sparred over different issues, which included education and crime.
Vallas, 69, has long been critical of the Chicago Teachers Union Johnson helps lead, arguing that the union’s work stoppages during the pandemic hurt children’s well-being and growth. According to Johnson, 46, Vallas’ charter school expansion and promotion of private school vouchers are “morally bankrupt” approaches to public education.
Among other things, Vallas has advocated reversing police department rules he claims restrict cops from doing their jobs by spouting tough talk and positioning himself as the pro-law enforcement candidate who will end the “complete lawlessness” he says has plagued Chicago. As for Johnson, he called policing a failed strategy and promised a new citywide strategy that would invest in housing, mental health, and other community investments instead.
The runoff election will take place in five weeks on April 4th.
After last night’s election, it is clear that Chicago voters wanted change and were not willing to accept more of Lightfoot’s leadership—arguably one of the worst mayors in Chicago history. Going forward, Commissioner Brandon Johnson will face off against Paul Vallas in the runoff election on April 4th. With both challengers offering dramatically different optics to solve the City’s problems, it will be interesting to see how Chicago moves forward into this new chapter of politics.
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