Our choice for New Mayor of Chicago: Lori Lightfoot, a reform candidate who will lead and reform this City
March 30, 2019

Lori Lightfoot.

Then there were two. From a field of 14 mayoral candidates aspiring to take on the myriad challenges facing the City of Chicago after eight roller coaster years of the Rahm Emanuel administration, only two remain:  Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

This intriguing run-off is the story of the political upstart and former Federal prosecutor, standing tall on a reform platform that has resonated with Chicagoans who are sick and tired of the way things have been for decades and the stench of corruption that permeates our city. On the flip side is the savvy, and in all fairness, oftentimes effective politician, who has struggled in this campaign to keep a step ahead of her dance partner—the Chicago Democratic Political Machine. It’s tough to do the tango with a partner that you know may drag you down—but the one you brought to the dance and whom you embraced as you rose up the ranks in Chicago politics, first in the City Council and then as President of the Cook County Board.

Leading up to the Feb. 26 election, Gazette Chicago was out in front of the other Chicago media in making a strong endorsement for Lori Lightfoot in its Feb. 1 issue (go to www.gazettechicago.com, click on the E-Edition tab, then search our archives for the February 1, 2019 issue, to read our initial mayoral endorsement).

Yep, an entire week before the Chicago Sun-Times stepped up for Lightfoot and before many other media outlets “saw the light” in making the same case. The Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business? They went for Bill Daley, who came in third and didn’t make the run-off, despite having the largest war chest among the 14 aspirants. Daley’s donations came primarily from corporations and the wealthiest Chicagoans, including a cool $2 million from Ken Griffin, who gave an unheard of $34 million to Republican Bruce Rauner during his two campaigns for Governor.

We received many positive comments as a result of our Feb. 1 endorsement for Lightfoot. Readers appreciated the time we put into reviewing the unusually large field of candidates and offering some clarity to the race. Are we bragging? Just a little. But much more importantly, we were uplifted to see that so many of our neighbors also want to see change—progressive change. The kind of change, promise, and passion for fairness for all Chicagoans that Lori Lightfoot brings to the table.

Some local political pundits said it was easy for Lightfoot to sneak into the top spot on Feb. 26 because she was a relative unknown. “Wait until the hot glare of the spotlight bears down on her in the run-off with Preckwinkle,” they surmised. Well, we’re still waiting. There hasn’t been a Lightfoot meltdown, no matter what the Preckwinkle campaign has thrown at her. In fact, Lightfoot has impressed us even further as she has remained cool and confident and able to articulate her views and positions in the debates, forums, and media interviews leading up to the April 2 election.

We are confident that Lightfoot has the skillset and vision to lead Chicago down a path that will result in the reform of our politics. It was telling in a recent meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board where these candidates stood on the critical issue of aldermanic privilege. Aldermanic privilege has basically given each of our 50 aldermen the final say in what developments will be built in their wards and decision-making on other critical matters that affect the masses.

Lightfoot saw this decades-long assumption of and, sadly in many cases, abuse of power, as the root of political corruption in the City Council and a means for undue influence by eager developers and others. Preckwinkle defended aldermanic privilege, arguing instead that not allowing City Council members to hold outside jobs was the best defense against future corruption. On the one hand, we had the response of a former prosecutor and someone who sees the need to reform our politics. On the other, we had a former colleague of the City’s aldermen who, in our eyes, wants to go soft on the City Council. We opt for the candidate who will look at reform with a critical eye—we stand with Lightfoot on this important issue. Thirty aldermen have been sent to jail on corruption charges since 1972, and now we have 25th Ward Alderman Daniel Solis wearing a wire for two years. This has got to stop. Now.

Lightfoot would set mayoral term limits as part of her plan to clean up City government. She plans to hold town hall meetings on the City budget and will stop elected officials from profiting from their government positions.

Chicago is at a crossroads. Do we want to become a city in which only the rich and powerful can live and thrive, or do we want to create opportunity for people from all corners of the city to have a chance to better themselves and their families? If you want the latter, then vote for Lightfoot.

She didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth—Lightfoot knows what it means for a family to struggle to work their way up to, and maintain middle class status. So many of our Chicago families are suffering to reach this level. Lightfoot will have compassion for her fellow citizens and create more opportunities for advancement.

We believe that Lightfoot will effectively address the problems in our public schools—which are not the fault of our teachers and principals, but stem from the way the current Mayor and his appointed school board have distributed resources and treated Chicago Public Schools staff with disdain. Lightfoot is in favor of an elected school board; expanding high school apprenticeship programs; and having a Level 1 elementary and high school in every neighborhood. It has been disappointing to see the Chicago Teachers Union throw their support to Preckwinkle, but they have the right to do so.

Do we want to offer alternative pathways to our youth that include education, job training, a true sense of self-worth, and a trust in government, and turn them away from gangs and street violence?  If so, then vote for Lightfoot.

She is an accomplished attorney who most recently served as a senior partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolutions Group at the firm of Mayer Brown LLP. Wouldn’t that skillset come in handy when dealing with the City Council, the Chicago Teachers Union, and other City agencies, as well as in communicating with all Chicagoans? Imagine a Mayor who didn’t talk down to you. That would be a breath of fresh air after eight years of Emanuel’s reign.

As chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, Lightfoot issued a detailed report of the practices of the Chicago Police Department. Many of the PATF’s findings and recommendations were similarly reported in the Department of Justice report in January 2017—under the watch of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. This report and consent decree gives us our best chance for reform and accountability within the CPD. If you want to see true and fair reform within the Chicago Police Department and honest discussions on race relations, how to create partnerships between police and community, and a rebuilding of trust between everyday citizens and the CPD, then vote for Lightfoot. She will also work to improve police training and reduce a homicide clearance rate that stands at an abysmal 15.4%.

She plans to address gun violence as the public health crisis that it is, create violence-prevention programs, open community-based mental health centers, and work to legislatively get illegal guns off our streets. She has a plan to expand affordable housing options and reduce the red tape that keeps many from having a roof over their heads.

Lightfoot supports the LGBTQ+ community and will appoint mayoral liaisons to work with Chicagoans who, like her, are a part of this community. We appreciate her desire for inclusivity and the importance of safeguarding the civil rights of LGBTQ+ people everywhere, and the fact she has been open about her status. Lightfoot handled refuting a recently circulated hate flyer that said that LGBTQ+ people were “taking over the city” with great dignity. There is no place for such hatred in Chicago, and Lightfoot will be a strong opponent of hate speech.

She is a proud mother and wants the best for all of our children and grandchildren. Lightfoot will stand to protect those with immigrant status in our city. She will reinstate the Department of the Environment to address climate change and embrace green technology.

Gazette Chicago once again strongly endorses Lori Lightfoot as the next Mayor of Chicago.