After numerous debates (too many in this person’s opinion), and enough rhetoric to keep Chicagoans engaged (or repelled), history was made Tuesday as Lori Lightfoot was elected Chicago’s first African-American female mayor.
Lightfoot faced current Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a runoff election for The Race To Replace Rahm, as the current mayor announced last September he would not run for re-election. Both women finished as the top two vote-getters in February’s election in a crowded field of fourteen candidates.
The last five weeks featured numerous debates with seven of those moderated by local media outlets. But in the end, it was Lightfoot who completely put on a clinic against Preckwinkle – winning with a whopping 73 percent of the vote, the largest margin of victory for a mayoral candidate since 2003 winning all 50 wards.
It was a triumph for Lightfoot, who hails from Massillion, Ohio, which is 20 miles south of Akron and a few miles west of Canton, home to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Lightfoot is not only the first African-American elected mayor of Chicago since Harold Washington in 1983 (and the first overall since 1989) and the first female mayor since Jane Byrne won in 1979, but also the first openly gay mayor in Chicago’s history.
The history-making nature of the event however, didn’t exactly translate to a large number of Chicago-area viewers rushing to their TV sets to watch election results as voter turnout was quite low. In fact, the race was called early (by 7:45 p.m.), removing any suspense. As noted by Robert Feder, Tribune-owned WGN-TV won the evening in prime-time among the key 25-54 news demo, with WGN leading all stations with an above-average 6.7 household rating at 9 p.m. With the exception of airing of Lightfoot’s victory speech just after 9 p.m. on the city’s major news stations, the network O&Os mainly stuck with their regular schedules.
At 10 p.m., the ratings lead shifted to ABC-owned WLS-TV, but most of the local stations opted to terminate coverage by 11 p.m. since Lightfoot had the election in the bag and the other local races weren’t exciting or titillating enough.
With Lightfoot taking over from Emanuel, she has her work cut out for her – dealing with a looming pension crisis, a possible public school teacher work stoppage, a declining populace, and violent crime – not to mention continuing fallout from the Jussie Smollett case which unfortunately, is dividing the Chicago area among racial lines – or as the local media is making you believe.
It’ll be interesting to see how she approaches all of these problems, but her plans already show promise compared to the previous administration, whose main mission was to whore themselves out to CNN and make the city worse in the national spotlight than it was already – not to mention the LaQuan McDonald case. Lightfoot might be the superhero rescuing from the evil clutches of corruption, but it’s the mess left behind by Rahm Emanuel she has to clean up.