Openly-gay Lori Lightfoot is Chicago’s first lesbian mayor
Lori Lightfoot made history last week by becoming the first African-American woman and openly gay person elected as mayor of Chicago, the largest city in the US to led by a member of the LGBT community.
The 56-year old Lightfoot defeated the much-vaunted Chicago political machine against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who was also the head of the Cook County Democratic Party.
With around 97 percent of the city precincts in, Lightfoot won in all 50 of Chicago’s wards as she won 74 percent of the unofficial vote against Preckwinkle’s 26 percent.
“Today, you did more than make history. You created a movement for change,” Lightfoot told her supporters at the Hilton Chicago after her victory. She will be sworn in as the city’s 56th mayor on May 20.
Lori Lightfoot aims for excellence
Born on 4 August 1962, Lori was the youngest of four children of Elijah and Ann Lightfoot, a factory worker and janitor father and a healthcare aide and school board member mother respectively.
Her parents worked two to three jobs to keep the family in stable housing and provide the basics. Because of this, Lori constantly pushed for excellence with the support of her mother.
“My parents didn’t have much money, but they had their dignity and their dreams, dreams for their children, dreams for me,” Lori said.
At the Washington High School in the segregated steel town of Massillon, Ohio, Lori was a trumpet player in the school band, a point guard on the basketball team, the school’s yearbook editor, and a member of the Pep Club.
During her stay in high school, she was elected class president thrice and she once helped organize a boycott of her school’s lunch program.
She got accepted at the University of Michigan, where she graduated with honors. But she paid her own way through college via loans, work-study jobs, and working factory jobs in the summer.
Lori Lightfoot: Law and the city
She worked for a while as a legislative aide in Washington, DC for two years before deciding to take law. Thanks to a full scholarship, she studied at the University of Chicago Law School.
In law school, she became the president of the University of Chicago Law School’s student body, quarterbacked an intramural flag football team, and did a one-year clerkship on the Michigan Supreme Court in Detroit.
After graduating with a Juris Doctor degree in 1989, she became a practicing attorney at the Mayer Brown law firm.
Aside from becoming the Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, she was appointed as chair of the Police Accountability Task Force and president of the Chicago Police Board.
However, when then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel was deciding to run for a third term, Lori decided to go up against him on May 10, 2018 despite not having been in any elected position previously.
Emanuel later backed out, leaving Lori going up against Preckwinkle and a slew of other candidates.
Lori Lightfoot’s fight for being mayor
During the campaign, She didn’t hide who she was, describing herself as “an out and proud black lesbian.” She and her spouse, Amy Eshleman, currently have a 10-year-old daughter.
Lori got the endorsements from LGBTQ groups and local politicians, as well as the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.
As the mayor of Chicago, she becomes the third African-American to serve, the second woman, and, of course, the first openly gay mayor.
“We can and we will break this city’s endless cycle of corruption. And never again — never, ever again — allow politicians to profit from elected positions,” she promised after winning the campaign.
Lori further said: “A lot of little girls and boys are out there watching us tonight, and they’re seeing the beginning of something, well, a little bit different.”
“They’re seeing a city reborn, a city where it doesn’t matter what color you are, where it surely doesn’t matter how tall you are and where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love with all your heart,” she said.