Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle face each other in an April 2, runoff election for mayor of Chicago, Illinois. They were the top two vote-getters among 14 candidates in the general election on Feb. 26. On September 4, 2018, incumbent Rahm Emanuel, first elected in 2011, announced he would not run for a third term as mayor of the nation's third-largest city. The 2019 race is Chicago's fourth open mayoral race in 100 years.
Both Lightfoot and Preckwinkle describe themselves as the progressive in the race and have called each other's progressive credentials into question-based on their political and professional histories. Lightfoot presents herself as the reform candidate in the race who is independent of corrupt machine-style politics. She notes her background as a senior equity partner for Mayer Brown and her past roles in city government, saying she has requisite experience managing teams and budgets.
Lightfoot has referred to Preckwinkle as a party boss due to her roles as Cook County Democratic Party chair and former party committeewoman. Preckwinkle highlights her experience as an alderman and Cook County Board of Commissioners president, saying she has the experience to run the city and a progressive record. She contrasts her experience in elected office with Lightfoot's previous appointments to positions by mayors, saying the latter connects Lightfoot to the political elite. Preckwinkle has also described Lightfoot as a wealthy corporate lawyer.
A number of issues are shaping the mayoral race, including the city's pension system shortfalls, crime rates, policies around K-12 school performance and under-enrollment, economic and racial divisions, policing, affordable housing, and government ethics. This page will follow key issues that emerge in the race and how Lightfoot and Preckwinkle approach them as the race develops.
The real issue being debated in Chicago leading up the historic election is who will provide a master plan for the rebirth of black communities on the south and west sides? For so long, and under Rahm's leadership, he has diluted the black vote by pairing with a few black leaders who helped him basically ignored the black community and their need for revitalization.
There are other serious matters that will require the attention of either Lightfoot or Preckwinkle, once the votes are counted on April 2 and winning has been chosen; like funding education, and of course, the pension crisis, expanding and the salvaging of the city's mass transit, which has badly eroded over the years.
But not many can discount how important the growth of mainly black and brown communities are to the future of what has been touted as a "World Class City" by the Emanuel administration. Chicago is a wonderful and vibrant city but for a select a group of implants who seemingly have taken over mostly the downtown areas, west and near south loop portions of the "Windy City" as their own personal play pin.
And when the new mayor of Chicago takes her oath of office, she will have to also build relationships with many incumbents but also a crop of new city council members who are looking to make it a strong city council and a weak mayor, a title that didn't stick with Rahm. He dominated the city council and got most if not all or what he wanted during his tenure.
Come tomorrow late evening, the world will be tuned in to see who'll not only be the next mayor of Chicago but which person will become the first black woman to command the fifth floor in City Hall. Who do you think it will be?