Chicago’s incumbent, Lori Lightfoot, Loses Bid for Re-Election


Emma Beard, Staff Writer

Last month’s mayoral election in Chicago presented an uncommon result for the city; Lori Lightfoot, the incumbent mayor, lost through only receiving a mere 17% of the vote. This is an extremely rare occurrence, as an incumbent hasn’t failed to make it to the runoff election since 1983. She finished in third place, falling behind candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas, who will participate in the runoffs in April. 

Elections in Chicago are somewhat unique as Democrats are the only major political party in the city. Political organizations remain crucial in Chicago’s politics, as opposed to other American cities where individuals have to scrape together their votes on their own. Additionally, police and teacher unions are extremely important for hopefuls to win the endorsement of, something that Lightfoot failed to accomplish in this election. 

So, what caused this nearly historic defeat for Lightfoot? When elected in 2019, Lightfoot ran to be the first black female mayor of Chicago, and won with nearly 73% of the votes and a win in all 50 of Chicago’s wards. However, the positive opinions of Lightfoot did not last for long, as she lost significant support throughout her time as mayor. Lightfoot’s term became plagued by the events of 2020, namely, her handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the surge of violence

 in Chicago.

The two candidates who have made it through to the runoffs, Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas, offer two incredibly different perspectives for Chicagoans. Vallas, a former public schools executive, has won the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. His campaign is heavily focused on public safety and crime through the increase of police presence. Vallas has stated his intent to fill police vacancies and increase arrest rates. Vallas is running as a Democrat moderate, but has faced some accusations from Johnson and his allies of holding Republican beliefs. Much of Vallas’ votes have come from more conservative, white areas who have only recently experienced this uptick in crime following the pandemic.

Johnson, on the other hand, has found support from white progressives as well as the Chicago Teachers Union, as a former educator himself. His stance towards the crime rates is more progressive, with a focus on mental health to get at the root of the violence in Chicago. Holding onto their respective voters, the question now is as to how the Latino and Black populations of the city will vote. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia won over the Hispanic population on the West Side, while black voters living in the South Side voted overwhelmingly for Lightfoot. With these two candidates out of the running, Vallas and Johnson will have to step up their campaigns to appeal to these demographics.