In historic win, Lori Lightfoot elected mayor of Chicago
Lori Lightfoot won Chicago’s mayoral race on Tuesday to become the first African-American woman to lead the nation’s third largest city.
In a commanding victory, Lightfoot received 362,896 votes, or 73.69 percent of the overall vote, with 2,001 of 2,069 precincts reporting. Her opponent, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle received 129,563 votes (26.31 percent), according to the Chicago Board of Elections.
With Lightfoot’s win, Chicago also became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor.
The former president of the Chicago Police board and a senior partner at Mayer Brown LLP, Lightfoot has never held an elected office. Nonetheless, she led Preckwinkle in the polls ever since garnering the most votes in the Feb. 26 election that saw the two women emerge from a pack of 14 candidates vying for the city's top post.
Throughout her campaign, Preckwinkle was dogged by questions about her ties to 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke, who is facing federal extortion charges after allegedly trying to shake down fast-food franchise executives.
Preckwinkle hired Burke’s son for a Cook County job that paid nearly $100,000 a year. She also received money from a fundraiser held by Burke on her behalf, although she eventually returned that money after Burke was indicted.
The chairwoman of Cook County's Democratic party, Preckwinkle’s loss was particularly costly for the Service Employees International Union. One of the state's largest public sector unions, the SEIU poured more than $3.23 million into her campaign, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The union and Preckwinkle's relationship has long raised conflict of interest claims. As Cook County board president, she often negotiated with the SEIU as it funneled money into her campaign coffers.
Voter turnout was extremely light Tuesday with only 495,328 ballots cast overall among 1,592,658 registered voters, according to the election board. That compares to 483,700 votes cast in 2015, the last time Chicago held a mayoral election.
Chicago Voter Turnout by Ward 2011 vs. 2015