Chicago (IL), – Democrat Lori Lightfoot was overwhelmingly elected today as the first African-American and lesbian mayor of Chicago, the third most populous city in the United States.
“Today we not only made history, but we have started a movement for change,” Lightfoot said in celebration of his victory at a hotel in the city shortly after the Electoral Board declared it winner with 73.8%.
“When we began our campaign, nobody trusted our possibilities, now, see where we have come from,” added the elected mayor, who promised to put “the interests of all the inhabitants of the city above the interests of a few powerful ones”.
The mayor-elect faces problems such as high crime rates, police brutality, endemic corruption, deficit in finances and lack of resources for public education.
Hundreds of followers followed his speech, with cheers, chants and posters, celebrating the victory.
“In this election, Toni (Preckwinkle) and I were competitors,” he said of his contender, also an African-American, who won 26.2% of the vote.
“But our differences,” he added, “are nothing compared to what we can achieve together, I know we will now work for the city we both love.”
Preckwinkle, 72, president of the Democratic Party in Illinois, exconcejal and since 2010 the head of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, where Chicago is based, said when acknowledging the defeat that she was “disappointed but optimistic”.
“This may not be the result we wanted, but even if I’m disappointed, I’m not discouraged,” said Preckwinkle.
“This is clearly a historic night, because not long ago, two African-American women in a second round of mayor’s office would have been unthinkable,” he added.
The result obtained by Lightfoot, 56-year-old federal attorney and ex-judge, marks a radical change in the city’s political tradition, where voters preferred a newcomer in politics who never exercised an elective office before, to the experience and tradition of Known leaders
Lightfoot will succeed from May to the still mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who in September announced that he would not aspire to a third term.
His announcement sparked a fierce row over the succession that led to 14 candidates competing in the first round in February.
The election of an African-American woman who has never held an elected office was a surprise on the political scene in Chicago. Until the election of Emanuel in 2011 the city was dominated by the Daley political dynasty, who ruled for 43 years.
According to the polls, Lightfoot gained greater support among white voters and higher education than among African-Americans and Hispanics.
Lightfoot had to overcome questions about his sexual orientation in the African-American community, particularly among the conservative pastors in the south and west of the city who have great influence on the electorate.
When she takes office in May, she will be the second woman in charge of Chicago after fellow Democrat Jane M. Byrne ruled the city between 1979 and 1983.
The opportunity to participate in a historic election did not seem to excite the voters, who only went to the polls in 29% of the total of 1.6 million registered in the register.
In the second round of today the councilors of 15 of the 50 districts of the city were also decided, and the post of municipal treasurer, for which the African-American Melissa Conyears-Ervin was elected (EFEUSA).