CHICAGO – Chicago became the largest US city ever to choose a black woman as its mayor as a constituent on Tuesday chose Lori Lightfoot, a former prosecutor, to replace Rahm Emanuel. When she takes her office in May, Ms Lightfoot will also be the city's first open gay mayor.
Ms. Lightfoot, who has never held an election meeting, easily won the race, overwhelmed a more well-known, long-term politician, and transformed his outside status into an asset in a city with a history of corruption and insider relations. Ms. Lightfoot, 56, beat Toni Preckwinkle, a former almanan head of the Cook County Board, who for years has been considered a very formidable candidate for mayor.
As Ms Lightfoot took the stage in a ballroom in the center on Tuesday night, she admitted the unlikely her resounding victory. "We were against strong interests, a powerful machine and a powerful mayor," she said. "No one gave us much chance."
For some of Ms Lightfoot's supporters, the importance of her victory was monumental and went beyond an individual candidate or city. "Look, nothing personal, but it's not the good boy club anymore," said Kimberly Smith, 40, who was born and raised on the South Side and said she thought the election marked a turning point in Chicago politics. "I feel empowered."
National advocates of gay rights celebrated Ms Lightfoot's victory. "Young queer women and color women can now be reflected in a position of great political leadership," says Stephanie Sandberg, CEO of LPAC, an organization that works to build the political power L.G.B.T.Q. women.
Ms. Lightfoot's emergence was unexpected a few weeks ago, when 13 other candidates coerced to drive the nation's third largest city, many of them much better known – with decades of experience in Chicago politics and with dynastic names like Daley. Ms. Lightfoot is a lawyer who has served in designated positions, including as head of the Chicago Police Board and as a leader of a working group that issued a report on the Chicago Police and Black residents relations, but she was not widely known around the city until the last few months. .
Ms. Lightfoot – Chicago's 56th Mayor – arrives at a crucial moment for a democratic city that during the last eight years was led by Mr Emanuel, who surprised many residents when he chose not to re-elect.
Chicago, a city of 2.7 million inhabitants, wrestles with dueling realities: Tech jobs and convention operations have settled in their shimmering center while public schools have been shuttered on the south and west, and have thousands of black residents moved away. Mr Emanuel's administration made progress in smashing the city's fiscal woes, but residents have complained of increasing taxes and fees. Chicago's new mayor still has to come up with another $ 1 billion over the next four years to continue pulling the city out of a retirement crisis.
And the city says that crime problems have improved over the past two years and play about half as many murders this year as they did during the same period in 2016. Violence and gang violence are still pervasive and the city had more than 550 murders in 2018, more than in the country's two major cities, New York and Los Angeles. 19659002] The race has often played a major role in politics in Chicago, which is essentially evenly distributed between white, black and Latin residents. On Tuesday, however, the competition between two African American women encrypted the usual political calculation, or what Chicagoan, Ra Joy, described as his habit of "voting", where politicians count on the support of voters of their own race.
In February, Ms Lightfoot and Ms. Preckwinkle topped the much-needed mayor's primary story with a much greater number of candidates of different ethnicities, races and sexes, and removed all others from Tuesday's drains. It left political orientations that few Chicagoans had seen before: Ms. Lightfoot pursues white voters on the city's northwest and southwest sides; both women are seeking black voters from a base on the south side who had leaned against another black candidate in February; parts of Chicago's North Side lakefront located with signs for Ms Lightfoot.
Some residents said that history of history made it possible to drive energy while others seemed uncomfortable, perhaps partly because of Chicago's similar milestones. In 1983, the city chose its first black mayor, Harold Washington, in a racially charged election; Some time before, in 1979, the city chose its first female mayor, Jane Byrne.
"It's not as shocking as it was then, so it's wonderful progress," Kathy Byrne, daughter of Jane Byrne, who died in 2014, said about the historic nature of this year's election. "Why is it taken so long? I don't know."
In many ways, the election turned into a referendum on Chicago's political culture, known for its unfortunate rankings on most corruption actions, its political machine and its habit of holding family dynasties in effect.
Ms. Lightfoot, who was a partner in a prominent law firm, Mayer Brown, depicted his newcomer status as a sign of strength, promised to dismantle the city hall's old political way and to "bring in the light". Still, her claim to be outsiders was questioned by some young city activists, who pointed to her job at the Richard M. Daley administration and as police officer during Emanuel's mission, not to mention her role as prosecutor.
Ms. Preckwinkle, the long-time Cook County chairman, had tried to throw his experience as necessary to manage a big city in Chicago, while reminding voters that she had – when she was first elected as an elderly man – regularly struck the political establishment  But a election season played out, saw impatience over political corruption intensifying among voters, partly because a major corruption scandal developed at the City Hall. The federal authorities have accused the city council's longest serving alman, Ed Burke, of running a chess dance in the old school, even as the local news media reported that a second almanan had collaborated with the authorities and secretly recorded their conversations at the City Hall for months.
Of the city's 50 spectators, 15 seats were up to runoff on Tuesday. Mr Burke, who has denied any maladministration, won re-election to another period in February and won a margin large enough to avoid a run-off.
Rarely does this city get new, unexpected mayors. So Chicagoans looked with curiosity and uncertainty about what a Lightfoot administration would really look like. Ms. Lightfoot has portrayed herself as a progressive, who promised to launch a new era of accountability and insight into the City Hall. Sometimes she seemed to run toward Chicago's politics in the public imagination: A television ad used a picture of a smoky room and talked darkly about the "Chicago machine".
Ms. Lightfoot has often spoken about equity and inclusion, redistributing the city's funds to spread the prosperity in the center and the north side to neighborhoods that have been neglected.
"It is unacceptable, the conditions of our societies on the south and west sides" she said during the campaign. "The only way we should cut a new path to the city to take us in a direction that our societies do not continue to be resource-driven is to vote for change."
Ms. Lightfoot favors a chosen school board, which would take power away from its own office. (Currently, the mayor appoints members of the school board.)
She has promised to substantially change the Chicago Police Department, increase training, and cut off officials.
But her answer to the urgent question of how the city should pay its dizzying bills has not been comprehensive.
Ms. Lightfoot has said she will help the city fulfill its financial commitments by legalizing leisure marijuana and building a casino in Chicago. But she has not fully explained how she would solve the city's imminent pension crisis.
"The one elected as mayor will face a very difficult economic situation," said Laurence Msall, the mayor president, a guard group
For Abraham Lacy, 33, a Chicagoan who voted for Ms Lightfoot opponents on the south side on Tuesday , the city's urgent challenges of finance, schools and crime required someone with deep experience.
"It's hard to get someone new to come in when you have so many things going on," says Mr. lacy.
In the end, many voters said they were driven more by their beliefs about politics than by politics. Ms Lightfoot, said her followers, offered the promise of a new order and a policy rejection a generation ago.
"It's because of Chicago," said Deepti Pareenja, 37, after voting at the city's Northwest Side for Ms Lightfoot "We have a history of corruption with people who have been involved in politics for decades."