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Lightfoot to announce she's running for a 2nd term

She certainly seems to be enjoying herself. Sure why not...maybe she can convince Kim Fox to stay on for some more fun. I love those guys!

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will seek a second term; announces bid with video release

By Gregory Pratt

Chicago Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot shakes hands with Shaad Syed while attending an iftar, a breaking-of-the-fast dinner during Ramadan, at the Muslim Community Center of Chicago, on April 19, 2022. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will ask voters to send her back to City Hall for a second term as head of the nation’s third-largest city, she made official Tuesday.

In a video announcing her re-election, Lightfoot sought to transform the criticism that she’s too combative into a strength by vowing to keep fighting for Chicago residents as she seeks a second term. By embracing her image as a political pugilist, Lightfoot is betting that Chicago voters will see her as a righteous fighter rather than someone who throws unnecessary haymakers.

“When we fight for change, confront a global pandemic, work to keep kids in school, take on guns and gangs, systemic inequality and political corruption only to have powerful forces try and stop progress for Chicago — of course I take it personally, for our city,” Lightfoot said. “Change doesn’t happen without a fight. It’s hard. It takes time. And, I’ll be the first to admit I’m just not the most patient person. I’m only human, and I guess sometimes it shows. But just because some may not always like my delivery doesn’t mean we’re not delivering.”

Lightfoot’s announcement she will seek re-election in the February 2023 mayoral race will come as no surprise. Despite wishful thinking by some Lightfoot critics that she would bow out of the race, the first-term mayor has long been setting up to defend her record and seek re-election.

The mayor currently faces five challengers, all of whom have raised questions about high crime and criticized her leadership as being unnecessarily divisive. So far, her opponents include South Side Ald. Roderick Sawyer, son of a former mayor; former Chicago Public School CEO Paul Vallas; Illinois state Rep. Kam Buckner; Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez; and businessman Willie Wilson.

During more than three years in office, Lightfoot has faced spikes in crime, has not run as transparent an administration as promised and engaged in constant fights with unions representing teachers and police — all while struggling to forge good relationships with politicians or leaders in the city’s business community.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks about the passage of the Bally's casino deal through City Council on on May 25, 2022 at City Hall. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Her polling has struggled in recent months, particularly with white and Latino voters, but the tough and combative mayor can’t be dismissed.

Lightfoot has quietly built a strong relationship with several key labor leaders, who hail her progressive record on union issues like the fair workweek ordinance and a $15 minimum wage. Incumbency in any form also has power. As mayor, Lightfoot has earmarked roughly $3 billion in federal funds for city projects and she’s launched a series of programs aimed at reversing one of the biggest criticisms of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s tenure — disinvestment in Chicago’s neighborhoods, especially on its South and West sides.

Lightfoot also can argue she deserves more time to finish the job after having faced the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and some of the city’s most significant civil unrest since the 1960s.

mWhoever becomes Chicago mayor in 2023 will take responsibility for a city with deep financial challenges, endemic gun violence and a troubling history of segregation that continues to exist and contribute to crime and inequity.

The next mayor will also navigate major changes in Chicago Public Schools, which will transition to an independent elected school board over the coming years. Lightfoot campaigned in favor of an elected school board but unsuccessfully tried to block a state law creating a 21-member body to oversee Chicago schools.

The popular consensus that Lightfoot alienates broad constituencies is a stark flip from the position she found herself in the April 2019 runoff election, when she carried all 50 wards in a landslide victory against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is also head of the Cook County Democratic Party.

But Lightfoot’s standing with voters is more complex and always has been.

In the first round of the mayoral campaign in 2019, Lightfoot emerged from a historic 14-candidate field with roughly 18% of the vote. While that was enough for her to take first place and move her to the final round versus Preckwinkle, it still shows that 4 out of 5 voters in that first round chose someone else. In that initial February 2019 election, Lightfoot rode broad support from lakefront voters on the North Side who are often liberal. This time, the mayor is expected to be strongest with African American voters — but that could be complicated by the field including strong Black alternatives.

Wilson, in particular, could be a challenge to Lightfoot’s fortunes as he won most of the city’s Black wards in 2019 and helped boost her campaign on the South and West sides with his endorsement during the runoff.

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