Prizm News / April 3, 2019 / By Bob Vitale
By Bob Vitale
In February, Lori Lightfoot sat in fourth place in the race for mayor of Chicago, garnering just 10 percent support in the polls and trailing three opponents from the city’s vaunted Democratic machine.
On Tuesday, the Ohio native scored a landslide victory in the only poll that counts. Lightfoot gained 74 percent of the vote and carried every one of the city’s 50 wards to be elected as the first black woman and the first out LGBTQ person to serve as mayor of the nation’s third-largest city.
The Democrat take office on May 20.
Lightfoot, 56, grew up in Massillon and graduated from Washington High School in 1980. She was president of her senior class.
“My daughter’s shattered that glass ceiling for hopefully a lot of women,” her mother, Ann Lightfoot, told their hometown newspaper, The Independent. “She’s true to her roots and still calls Massillon home.”
Lightfoot has lived in Chicago since 1986, when she began studying at the University of Chicago Law School. She’s a former federal prosecutor and former head of the Chicago police board. She focused her campaign on fighting corruption at City Hall.
“When I was a little girl, I remember singing the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” she told supporters last night as she stood with her wife, Amy Eshleman, and their daughter. “We’ve said it’s time to bring in the light, and it’s sure shining on all of us tonight. Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!”
In Tuesday’s runoff election, Lightfoot defeated Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. In the Feb. 26 primary, she finished ahead of Preckwinkle, former U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and 10 other candidates.
Chicago will be the largest U.S. city to be led by a black woman and the largest U.S. city to be led by an out lesbian.
“A Black lesbian taking power in the nation’s third-largest city is a historic moment for so many communities that are too often ignored in American politics,” said Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston and current Victory Fund president and CEO.
“Chicago’s enormous influence on the national dialogue provides a platform for Lori to promote more inclusive solutions to the challenges facing our cities and nation—and to be a credible messenger as well. Lori will certainly remain focused on the issues facing Chicago. But as the highest-ranking LGBTQ person ever elected mayor of an American city—a title she takes from me—she is also now a key leader in the movement to build LGBTQ political power nationwide.”
Voters in Madison, Wis., also elected a lesbian mayor Tuesday.
Satya Rhodes-Conway, 47, a former Madison City Council member, defeated incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin with 62 percent of the vote in the city of 255,000.
And in Kansas City, lesbian City Council member Jolie Justus finished first in a nine-candidate primary for mayor. She will compete against City Council member Quinton Lucas in a June general election.
Closer to home, openly gay City Council member Jeremy Blake has announced his candidacy for mayor of Newark, Ohio. That election ends on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Twelve gay and lesbian Americans currently are serving as mayors of U.S. cities, including South Bend, Ind.’s Pete Buttigieg, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.