Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s first Black woman and openly gay mayor, on Tuesday became the first leader of the huge Midwestern city in 40 years not to win re-election, US media reported.
Lightfoot, criticized by rivals for the rising crime rates in the city, conceded the surprise defeat, telling supporters she was “rooting and praying for our next mayor to deliver for the people of the city for years to come.”
Paul Vallas, a former chief executive of Chicago public schools, will now face Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and former teacher, in a second round on April 4, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Vallas is backed by the local police union, while Johnson has the support of the Chicago teachers’ union.
Lightfoot’s defeat was seen as a shock in the country’s third largest city, which has for decades returned mayors to power. She had won every ward in the city in 2019, but the rising crime rates and the economic fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic had shaken her support.
“We know in life, in the end, you don’t always win the battle. But you never regret taking on the powerful, and bringing in the light,” she told a crowd of supporters.