Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot Shuts Down Burke in 1st City Council Meeting as Mayor

With just a hint of another so-called "Council Wars," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot shut down her opposition while presiding over her first meeting of City Council as mayor on Wednesday.

Just two aldermen, embattled Ald. Ed Burke and Ald. Ray Lopez, tried to complain about her changes, but Lightfoot was quick to silence Burke in particular, leaving Chicago's longest-serving member of City Council speechless for the first time that anyone can remember.

Among the changes Lightfoot won approval for were: livestreaming committee meeting and TIF subsidies through the Economic Development Committee instead of the powerful Finance Committee - the budget of which was slashed from $2.3 million to roughly $700,000.

Burke rose to object specifically to the language of one of Lightfoot's new rules for City Council, pointing out that the rules were written in terms of “he” or “him” and did not include women.

A former federal prosecutor, Lightfoot corrected him to indicate that the rules were gender neutral and delivered a powerful rebuttal.

"Alderman, I will call you when I'm ready to hear from you," she responded to Burke's continued complaints, drawing applause from the crowd.

Afterwards, Lightfoot acknowledged that the exchange was about more than just the terms used - it was a way to jockey for power.

"Ald. Ed Burke is somebody who likes to test people," Lightfoot said. "He likes to see if there are weaknesses. And he has attempted to do this in the past with me and he has failed spectacularly every time."

For his part, Ald. Ray Lopez said Lightfoot claimed he was out of order when he tried to raise his objections - a move that he said didn't sit right with him.

"If you treat all my colleagues the way you treated me today, you will find that not everyone is as happy to work with you as they were today," Lopez said.

Lightfoot's response was simple: "If Ald. Lopez wants to have a conversation, I’m really easy to find."

Lightfoot also won approval by voice vote - with just a few dissenting voices willing to publicly object - of her new committee chairs, including Ald. Scott Waguespack to head the Finance Committee.

"She is serious about change and those of us who are with her are gonna be serious as well," Waguespack said of Wednesday's meeting.

"The people in this city expect us to do our job," Lightfoot said. "They expect the government to actually work on behalf of the people."

Of her first City Council meeting, Lightfoot said she thought it "went fine," but the true test will come when she crafts her first budget.

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