For the first time, a black woman will become the mayor of Chicago.
Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot (90,000 votes) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (82,000) took the top two spots among 14 candidates in Tuesday’s historic election, which saw near-record low turnout. Lightfoot, who is also Chicago’s first openly gay candidate for mayor, has made police reform the hallmark of her campaign, and Preckwinkle has prioritized public school funding, winning the endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union.
The race now heads to a runoff April 2.
"We may not yet be at the finish line, but we should acknowledge that history is being made," Preckwinkle said Tuesday night, according to the Chicago Tribune. "It's clear we're at a defining moment in our city's history, but the challenges that our city faces are not simply ideological. It's not enough to say Chicago stands at a crossroads. We need to fight to change its course."
The two women beat out bigger names (14 names appeared on the ballot) who vastly outspent them. In third place, William Daley got 76,000 votes. Both Daley’s brother and father have served as Chicago’s mayor, and he spent millions more than either of the final two candidates on his campaign.
Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and has been historically controlled by Democrats. More than 30 percent of the city’s population is black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The two Democrats have already begun highlighting their differences ahead of the April vote. Lightfoot, who has branded herself as a political outsider, has served on the chair of the city’s police accountability task force, established by outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"There's been nobody in the city that's been a more vocal, persistent, demanding advocate for police reform and accountability than I have," Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune.
Preckwinkle, meanwhile, has instead prioritized public education in Chicago, pushing for a moratorium on charter schools that operate privately but compete with public schools for students and government funding.
Cover: Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot addresses the crowd at her election night party as she leads in the polls, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Chicago. Lightfoot, a federal prosecutor running as an outsider, advanced Tuesday to a runoff for Chicago mayor, a transitional election for a lakefront metropolis still struggling to shed its reputation for corruption, police brutality and street violence. (Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)