April 2 (UPI) — Lori Lightfoot was elected Chicago’s mayor in a landslide victory Tuesday night, becoming the city’s first African-American female mayor as well as the first openly gay person to lead the city.
Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and president of the Chicago Police Board, earned a decisive victory over Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a runoff election with 74.2 percent of the vote to Preckwinkle’s 25.8 percent, with 70.7 percent of the precincts reporting.
“I feel very humbled and honored. I’m gonna do everything I can to earn it,” Lightfoot, 56, said. “We were hoping, based on our polling, that we would do really well. But, this is amazing. More than I ever dreamed of. People really wanted change. They were very troubled by the negative tone of the Preckwinkle campaign. Now, people have new hope for a new beginning.”
Voter turnout was forecast to be a record-low 32 percent.
Lightfoot is the third African American to be elected mayor of Chicago, the second woman and the first ever LGBT person, making Chicago the largest city in the United Staes to be led by an openly gay mayor.
“We have the opportunity to bring all parts of our city together, to forge a new direction for our city that welcomes everyone to the table,” said Lightfoot.
Lightfoot also won the general election in February, edging out Preckwinkle by a point and a half to come out atop a field of a dozen other candidates to force the runoff election.
She will succeed outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who announced last summer he wouldn’t run for the office again in 2019.
Tuesday’s result follows a harsh campaign cycle, in which the two candidates traded public barbs with Lightfoot positioning herself as a needed change to the city’s government and Preckwinkle touting her decades of experience in public office.
The two candidates agreed to hold a “day of unity” on Wednesday to settle the fierce nature of the divisive campaign at the request of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“The commitment needs to be to work together for the interests of the people of the city of Chicago,” Preckwinkle said of the plan for unity after the election on Saturday as they signed the pledge.