Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot loses re-election bid

Lori Lightfoot.
(Image credit: Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will not serve a second term, after failing on Tuesday to advance to an April runoff election.

There were nine candidates in the mayoral race, and with no one securing more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright, there will be a runoff on April 4 between the top two candidates: Paul Vallas, a former chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, and Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner. Vallas has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, while the Chicago Teachers Union is backing Johnson.

Lightfoot was elected in 2019, becoming the first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve as mayor of Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States. During her tenure, she cleared the way for Chicago's first casino and secured financing for the expansion of the Red Line to the South Side. Lightfoot also faced criticism from opponents who said she didn't follow through with her campaign promise to reform City Hall or disagreed with how she handled the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the first incumbent mayor in Chicago to lose a re-election bid in 40 years.

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In her concession speech, Lightfoot told a crowd of supporters that "obviously, we didn't win the election today, but I stand here with my head held high and a heart filled with gratitude." Being mayor was "the honor of a lifetime," she declared, adding, "we fought the right fights and we put this city on a better path."

Ahead of the election, with murders and robberies up in the city, Vallas focused on crime and public safety, saying he would hire more police officers and fire David Brown, the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Johnson pushed for more funding for education and mental health services, investments in housing, and police reforms. Both are Democrats. But pointing to the Fraternal Order of Police endorsement, Lightfoot accused Vallas of being a shadow Republican, The Chicago Tribune reports.

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