Thursday marked the second anniversary of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's inauguration, and the halfway mark in her term in office.
It's a term that has so far seen a global pandemic, a social justice uprising and a contentious presidential election.
But as Lightfoot used the day to tout some of her accomplishments and to announce support for grants that will improve several public spaces in Chicago, she also lamented the challenges she believes slowed the progress she hoped to have made at this point in her time as mayor.
"Obviously, we haven't done everything that we want to do, we're planning to do," she told reporters Thursday. "There's this thing called a global pandemic that obviously has slowed things down, but we stay determined."
Her comments come as a number of groups in the city, including the Chicago Teachers Union, criticized her administration, saying it "ignored the demands of the people, and failed on multiple issues."
They also follow the board of directors of the Fraternal Order of Police's vote of no confidence in Lightfoot, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown and First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter.
"Look, I'm the mayor of the city. There's always going to be people who are critical. There's always going to be people who say we fall short," she said.
Lightfoot promised early on that she would transform Chicago into the safest big city in America, but violent crime, carjackings and homicides are up - a trend she also blamed largely on the coronavirus pandemic.
"We ended 2019 with under 500 homicides for the first time in years, and then COVID struck," Lightfoot said. "And I think if you look and follow your history, what you're going to find is every major city across the country - New York, LA, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Denver - every single city across the country has faced a skyrocketing increase in violent crime. Part of this is obviously due to COVID because every part of our public safety infrastructure has been directly and dramatically affected by COVID-19. Now, no one satisfied with that, and we're working hard."
She also ran on a promise to implement an elected school board, a plan which she has since changed.
"I support a hybrid, and that hybrid, obviously, would have an elected component to it," Lightfoot said Thursday. "But I think- here's what we need to make sure that we keep in mind when we're talking about one of the most consequential changes in governance of CPS: First and foremost, you have to ask, does this proposal, help our kids? Does this proposal make sure that the learning gaps that we're seeing, the loss of learning that we've seen over the course of the pandemic, and does that proposal help it? Does the proposal make sure that parents have an opportunity to be at the table, all parents, not just citizens and but also undocumented parents? Does the proposal, allow for the creation of a plan that can be executed over multiple years?"
She also faced questions Thursday about her recent announcement that she would only grant one-on-one interviews to mark this anniversary to journalists of color, calling out a lack of diversity in local media coverage and stating the racial make-up of the City Hall press corps is "an imbalance that needs to change."
While some on social media praised the move as "equity" and a step forward in representation, many others criticized the decision, some calling it a lack of transparency.
When asked Thursday about the decision Lightfoot said she "took advantage of the opportunity of the two-year anniversary to call this out, and hopefully, there'll be some progress."
Lightfoot - Chicago's first Black female mayor and first openly gay mayor - had never held office prior to her run for mayor. But looking ahead to the second half of her term, she expressed optimism.
"There's always going to be critics that goes with the territory. but what I'm focused on is making sure that every day. I'm working my tail off for the residents of the city. In my commitment, and my result has never done and we're excited to start your free tomorrow."