Out black lesbian leading candidate for Chicago’s mayor, a first

Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot. LightfootforChicago.com.

In Tuesday’s mayoral election primary, two black women will be the choices for the next mayor of Chicago. One of them, Lori Lightfoot, a former assistant US Attorney, describes herself as an “out and proud black lesbian”. Toni Preckwinkle, the other candidate, is the Cook County Board president.

The winner between Lightfoot and Preckwinkle in the April 2 runoff election will be the first black woman mayor of the city. Lightfoot is the first openly LGBTQ candidate for the job.

In a light turnout election with 14 candidates, Lightfoot received 17.48 percent of the vote; Preckwinkle received 15.96 percent.

Reacting to her election results, Lightfoot said on Facebook, “As I said last night – many said this day could never happen. That the field was too crowded. That there was no path for a new reformer amidst establishment candidates. We're proving them wrong!”

The crowded field was a result of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement in September that he would not run for a third term.

Lightfoot has made reforming the Chicago Police Department a prime foundation of her campaign. “Lori won’t need on the job training to address issues of public safety,” says her campaign website.

“She has extensive experience as a former federal prosecutor, a leader in investigating police misconduct including police-involved shootings, and more recently as president of the Police Board and chair of the Police Accountability Task Force. Lori’s work is the underpinning of the Obama-era Department of Justice report and the consent decree, which will be the basis for police reform and accountability.”

The former federal prosecutor is not planning on ignoring the LGBTQ community in the city. In a policy statement, she outlines her plans:

“Like anyone else, my identity and experiences have helped shape how I see the world. As an out and proud black lesbian, I understand the importance of safeguarding the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and I recognize that while significant progress has been made, more important work must be done.

“Although all members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to face struggles in today’s society, the challenges are especially acute for our youth, members of the trans community and LGBTQ+ people of color. Our collective lived experience and acknowledgement of the continuing challenges we face will inform my administration’s efforts to serve and protect the LGBTQ+ community.”

Lightfoot particularly is focused on LGBTQ+ people of color. “People of color experience LGBTQ+ discrimination differently than our white counterparts, and this shows up in employment, the wage gap, access to health care, and interactions with the government and criminal justice system. This lived awareness will inform my administration’s efforts to serve the LGBTQ+ community.”

She lists her priorities as:

1. Guarantee visibility and participation in city government

2. Bolster safety and justice for the trans community

3. Protect and support LGBTQ+ youth

4. Promote wellness and health

5. Address the needs of LGBTQ+ seniors

6. Ensure LGBTQ+ veterans get a fair deal

Governing Chicago, the third largest city in the country, is a daunting job. She says she is ready for the job, with a website statement saying, “An experienced manager, advocate and reform expert, Lori Lightfoot has worked at the city and federal level to make government more accountable and accessible.

“Taking on tough challenges and forging solutions, Lori is prepared to successfully lead the third largest city in the country. As mayor, she will work to create opportunity for every Chicagoan—regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, or neighborhood."

Lori Lightfoot and her spouse, Amy Eshleman, live on the near northwest side with their 10-year-old daughter.

Copyright The Gayly – February 27, 2019 @ 11:10 a.m. CST.