Chicago's historic runoff election promises the city's first African-American woman as mayor

Mon. April 1, 2019 10:46 AM by News Staff

preckwinkle and lightfoot at chicago pride parade, 2018

photo credit // steven koch

Chicago could also elect its first openly LGBTQ mayor

Chicago, IL - No matter who wins Tuesday's municipal election, Chicago will for the first time elect an African-American woman as its mayor.

Chicago could also elect its first openly LGBTQ mayor.

The historic runoff pits Lori Lightfoot, 56, a former assistant US attorney who describes herself as "an out and proud black lesbian" ready to crush the Chicago machine against Toni Preckwinkle, 72, a political insider who heads the Cook County Board and chairs the Cook County Democratic Party.

Much of the LGBTQ establishment - including Equality Illinois PAC, the political action committee for Illinois' largest LGBTQ civil rights group and Human Rights Campaign - has endorsed Lightfoot.

Lightfoot has also received key endorsements from U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and businessman Willie Wilson, who won the highest number of predominantly black wards in the first election.

Others in Lightfoot's camp are openly-gay Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward, who represents a majority of the Boystown neighborhood; and openly-lesbian Deb Mell of the 33rd.

Preckwinkle has received endorsements from LGBTQ leaders including longtime community activist Rick Garcia, openly-gay Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa of the 35th, immigration rights activist Tania Unzueta, and executive director of the Personal PAC Terry Cosgrove, among others.

Both candidates advanced in the Feb. 26 election from a field of 14 candidates - the largest number in Chicago history - running to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Lightfoot was at the top, earning 17.5 percent of the vote while Preckwinkle finished second, earning 16 percent of the vote.

Early voting for the runoff election started on March 15 and will conclude Monday, April 1. All 51 early voting sites are open until 5 p.m. Monday, with the Loop Super Site and sites in Wards 4, 12, 19, 28, 41, and 47 remaining open until 7 p.m. The runoff election is April 2. For more information, visit