Lori Lightfoot won a resounding victory Tuesday night to become both the first African-American woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago, dealing a stinging defeat to a political establishment that has reigned over City Hall for decades.
After waging a campaign focused on upending the vaunted Chicago political machine, Lightfoot dismantled one of its major cogs by dispatching Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, whose candidacy had been hobbled in part by an anti-incumbent mood among voters and an ongoing federal corruption investigation at City Hall.
“Today, you did more than make history,” Lightfoot told hundreds of supporters at the Hilton Chicago on Tuesday night. “You created a movement for change.”
With roughly 97 percent of the city’s precincts reporting, Lightfoot had swept all 50 of Chicago’s wards, winning 74 percent of the unofficial vote to 26 percent for Preckwinkle, a 28-year officeholder who prior to her eight years as the county’s chief executive served 19 years as a Hyde Park alderman.
Lightfoot will be sworn in as Chicago’s 56th mayor on May 20 while Preckwinkle will return to her third term running the county after a humiliating defeat that included losing her own 4th Ward by 20 points.
Lightfoot will become the third African-American to serve as mayor. Harold Washington was elected in 1983 as the city’s first black mayor and won re-election in 1987 before dying in office later that year. Eugene Sawyer, the city’s second black mayor, was appointed to serve out Washington’s term until a 1989 special election.