WATCH: Black, gay woman elected Chicago mayor in historic vote

2019-04-03 22:47

In a historic first, a gay African-American woman was elected mayor of America's third largest city on Tuesday, as Chicago voters entrusted a political novice with tackling difficult problems of economic inequality and gun violence.

Lori Lightfoot, a 56-year-old former federal prosecutor and practising lawyer who has never before held elected office, won the Midwestern city's mayoral race in a lopsided victory.

She beat out Toni Preckwinkle, the chief executive of Cook County in which Chicago is located, by a wide margin of 74% to 26% in early voting results with most ballots counted. Preckwinkle is also African-American.

Lightfoot will become Chicago's first openly gay mayor and the first African-American woman to hold the post. Since 1837, Chicago voters have elected only one black mayor and one female mayor.

Stunning development

Her ascendancy to the top of Chicago government was a stunning development in a city where insider deals and entrenched party politics held sway for decades.

"It is a city-wide rejection of the Chicago political establishment at the mayoral level," said Evan McKenzie, political science professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Preckwinkle has for decades held various local elected offices, which analysts said hurt her in an election in which voters were looking to shake up city hall - fed up with gun violence that claims more lives than in other major American cities, and years of political corruption in the Democratic stronghold.

"People (are) hoping for something different to come along. To be the vessel for that is overwhelming," Lightfoot told reporters earlier on Tuesday.

The initial field in the mayoral race consisted of 14 contenders, but Lightfoot managed an upset - side-lining moderates and establishment figures by promising to clean up city government and reduce economic inequality.

She and Preckwinkle were the final two left competing in Tuesday's run-off election.

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