Mayor Lori Lightfoot began her campaign for a second term as mayor on Wednesday with a whirlwind tour focused on the South and West Sides, vowing to battle the forces that continue to drive Chicago apart and keep Black and Latino residents from getting their share of the city’s resources and investments.
Lightfoot began her five-stop tour at the Starlight restaurant in Ashburn in the far south, where she told the crowd that those opposed to making Chicago a more equitable place to live were determined to deny her a second term. .
“The city is a big, beautiful mosaic,” said Lightfoot, who held just one North Side campaign stop on Wednesday. “And we need to make sure residents and neighbors south of Roosevelt Road and west of Ashland get their due.”
Before heading to Brown Sugar Bakery in Greater Grand Crossing, the mayor who won every ward in the 2019 election and nearly 74% of the vote claimed the mantle of an outsider.
“When I took office, the people who used to have their way – who used to dominate our city – they wanted their city back and they fought against us every day,” said Lightfoot.
The events of Lightfoot were tightly scripted, with the mayor’s campaign team releasing the precise location of the events only to pre-approved members of the media. At each stop, she was greeted by city grant recipients, sympathetic city council members and hand-picked endorsers.
At both morning stops, Lightfoot touted his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic that has sickened more than 620,000 Chicagoans, hospitalized about 43,000 and killed 7,711 people.
Lightfoot twice responded to questions from reporters on Wednesday, and both times declined to elaborate on what she would accomplish if she wins a second term. But she didn’t miss an opportunity to scorn those she sees as impeding progress in Chicago.
“Haters are gonna hate,” Lightfoot said. “Haters will hate.”
Five major challengers have already announced bids to challenge Lightfoot’s re-election bid: Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward), former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, State Representative Kam Buckner, businessman and philanthropist Willie Wilson and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th arrondissement).
During the 2019 campaign, Lightfoot focused particularly on Chicago government reform with dozens of policy proposals and a detailed platform. Lightfoot’s dark horse campaign has capitalized on anger at City Hall corruption, which goes unchecked.
Pressed twice by WTTW News on Wednesday, Lightfoot failed to identify a similar issue at the heart of her fledgling re-election campaign, repeatedly saying she would listen to what Chicago voters wanted from her and their city government. .
Lightfoot said she would make tackling crime her No. 1 priority, but did not offer any new proposals or signal a new approach to public safety.
“People don’t feel safe,” Lightfoot said, quickly citing data that shows shootings and murders have declined so far this year, compared to the same time in 2021. But last year was the most violent year in Chicago for about 25 years. , putting Lightfoot and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, his handpicked choice to lead the department, on the defensive.
While his top five opponents would fire Brown, Lightfoot said the top cop in town has his full support.
Anyone who would like to fire him reveals that he “knows nothing about public safety,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot twice criticized Cook County judges for “leaving violent and dangerous people on the streets after charges were laid.”
“That’s the priority,” Lightfoot said. “Of course, that’s the number one issue. We need to make sure people feel safe. It starts with increased police presence and increased police accountability.
Lightfoot acknowledged that Chicago’s small businesses – which she called “the backbone of our economy” were still struggling and pledged to continue to listen to their owners about what they need from the city with a ” laser beam”.
“The core issues have not been resolved,” Lightfoot said, adding that she would continue to press the federal government for more help and urged banks to invest in government-owned businesses. black and Latino Chicagoans.
During a lunchtime stop at La Catedral in Little Village, Lightfoot pledged to prevent discrimination against immigrants and to protect undocumented immigrants.
At Revolution Workshop, a construction trades training center in West Garfield Park, Lightfoot stood alongside Ald. Jason Ervin (27th Ward), who gave the then-mayor the most direct and public praise, praising Lightfoot’s Invest South/West program. City officials say that effort resulted in $1.4 billion in investments in 10 south and west neighborhoods.
While Lightfoot has made a wide range of enemies since taking office, Ervin is not one of them. Early in Lightfoot’s tenure, he said he was skeptical of Invest South/West – and nearly derailed the mayor’s plan to allow the legal sale of cannabis.
But Ervin said Lightfoot won her over and praised her for investing more in the West Side in her four years in office than former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 22 years and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel in eight years.
The final stop of Lightfoot’s day at Sidetrack in Northalsted, the heart of Chicago’s gay community, was disrupted by a man furious that Lightfoot said on Monday that those charged with violent crimes should be detained before trial because they are “guilty” if they have been charged. . According to a recent study, Illinois has more wrongful convictions than anywhere else in the country.
Throughout the day, Lightfoot bristled with suggestions that she would face an uphill battle to become the first woman to be reelected as mayor of Chicago.
“I am a black woman in America,” Lightfoot said. “People bet against us every day.”
Note: This story will be updated with a video.
Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]