Lori Lightfoot is running against Toni Preckwinkle to succeed Rahm Emanuel and become Chicago’s first female, African American mayor. The two women defeated 12 other candidates to advance to the runoff, reports The Chicago Tribune.
Lightfoot is from Ohio, where both her parents migrated from the south as teenagers. She is 56-years-old, and shares a birthday (August 4th) with former US President Barack Obama.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lightfoot has Worked in Multiple Chicago Leadership Roles
Lightfoot earned her JD from the University of Chicago, where she received a full scholarship. She then worked as a legislative aide for two years in Washington, D.C. She served as Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1996-2002.
“Lori Lightfoot most recently served as a senior equity partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at Mayer Brown LLP. She previously served as Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, President of the Chicago Police Board, interim First Deputy of the Chicago Department of Procurement Services, Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Chief Administrator of the Office of Professional Standards and as Assistant United States Attorney in the criminal division,” reports ABC Chicago.
2. Lightfoot has Investigated Police Misconduct
“Lightfoot has a background in law enforcement and says she considers constitutional, respectful policing a key to public safety,” according to Chicago Reporter.
She was appointed the president of the Chicago Police Board in 2015.
“The board was notorious for overriding disciplinary recommendations by the police superintendent. Under Lightfoot it changed course, terminating officers in 72 percent of the cases it heard,” reports Chicago Reader.
3. Lightfoot has Been a Successful Attorney
“A Chicago Tribune examination of Lightfoot’s career with the behemoth Chicago firm Mayer Brown shows that she has represented corporate clients accused of racial discrimination, as well as police and prosecutors accused of the kind of misconduct she has criticized as a candidate,” reports Chicago Tribune. “Lightfoot also has made millions of dollars working at a firm whose attorneys have represented tobacco companies and other corporate clients accused of egregious wrongdoing.”
Lightfoot responded to criticism Chance the Rapper made of the former federal prosecutor during a City Hall news conference by mentioning her grandmother’s murder at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Chance endorsed Lightfoot’s competition, Toni Preckwinkle.
The mayoral candidate counters suggestions of elitism. In the WTTW Voters’ Guide, Lightfoot said, “My vision for this office is to create a transparent City Hall that is more responsive and accountable to every person, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”
4. Lightfoot has Been Misrepresented on Social Media
“There are many distortions in critics’ comments on social media — so much so that the campaign has posted a fact sheet to address some of them,” according to Chicago Reporter.
A few of the claim vs. fact statements include:
“Lori’s opponents claim she’s a wealthy corporate lawyer … [but] Lori grew up in a low-income family that faced many of the same challenges Chicago families face …”
“Lori’s opponents say she is part of the establishment because she was appointed by Mayor Daley and Mayor Emanuel … [but] Lori is the only independent reformer in this race.”
“Lori’s opponents have attacked her for defending police against lawsuits … [but] Lori has dedicated her career to police reform and accountability.”
To the critics of her role in the criminal justice system, Lightfoot notes her brother has spent “most of his adult life in prison,” and she “understands on a deeply personal level the impact of the criminal justice system on families.”
5. She Would be Chicago’s First Openly gay Mayor
Lightfoot has lived in Chicago since 1986 and now lives with her wife and daughter near the northwest side.
“Attorney Lori Lightfoot on Monday questioned why Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle brought up her sexual orientation in response to a question in last week’s Chicago mayoral debate,” reports Chicago Tribune. “Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who is openly gay, was asked about Preckwinkle’s answer to a question in which both candidates were asked what they admired about the other, and the county’s leader applauded her opponent’s openness about her sexual orientation. Lightfoot wondered aloud whether Preckwinkle’s response was ‘blowing a dog whistle’ to conservative voters in a campaign where both candidates have been negative about each other.”
Preckwinkle called the suggestion ridiculous.
Lightfoot included her daughter in a campaign commercial.