How Lori Lightfoot broke the rules and beat the establishment

Opinion

April 4, 2019 - 9:44 AM

Lori Lightfoot appears at an election night party on Tuesday in Chicago. Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and the ninth candidate to jump into the race for Chicago mayor 11 months ago, won election Tuesday in a nearly 3-to-1 landslide over establishment candidate Toni Preckwinkle, an early favorite in a crowded field. A likely reaction from the Chicago Home for Experienced Political Pros: How’d that happen? Read on. First, a glance at the challenge she inherits:

Lightfoot will take her oath of office next month, replacing two-term Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He leaves City Hall steadier financially than when he took office in 2011 — although Chicago and its taxpayers still face deep debts and structural deficits. One of Lightfoot’s first tasks will be to present a balanced budget for 2020 that includes an extra $276 million for city pension funds.

She’ll also take over the fifth floor of City Hall as warmer weather threatens an uptick in violent crime. Homicides were down 38 percent as of late March compared with the same period last year. Can City Hall help sustain that trajectory? Residents on the South and West sides who live in perpetual fear of gun violence will be counting on her.

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