Lori Lightfoot

Live Blog: Lori Lightfoot Sworn in as Chicago’s 56th Mayor

Lightfoot is the city's first-ever black female mayor and its first openly-LGBTQ mayor

Monday marked the beginning of a new era in Chicago history, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot was sworn into office as the city's first-ever black female mayor and its first openly-LGBTQ mayor.

Follow along below for all the major highlights as her inauguration day unfolds. 

2:12 p.m. Lightfoot announces her first executive order in an emailed statement from the mayor's press office. "This is a historic day for the city," Lightfoot said in the statement. "In my campaign for mayor, I pledged to bring an end to aldermanic prerogative and ensure our government delivers equitable services to all of Chicago’s communities, regardless of their zip code. Today, I have instructed City departments to begin to end the process of aldermanic prerogative as the first step in a comprehensive ethics reform package to reform the way government works in Chicago."

1:30 p.m. After a powerful inaugural speech railing against government corruption, Lightfoot signed her first executive order to end aldermanic privilege.

12:45 p.m.: Lightfoot is scheduled to sign her first executive order at City Hall, laying out a process to end aldermanic privilege, which allows individual members of City Council to block city ordinances within their own wards.

12:30 p.m.: Lightfoot arrives at City Hall with her wife and daughter, walking into her new office - that now bears her name on the door - for the first time as mayor.

12:07 p.m.: The doorway has opened on the 5th floor of City Hall, a symbolic gesture creating a physical opening between the city and county offices. It now allows free flow from the mayor’s office to the Cook County Board president’s office, signaling that Lightfoot and her one-time opponent Preckwinkle are putting the election behind them. 

12:02 p.m.: The Emerald Society plays the bagpipes as the audience files out. Lightfoot mingles with people on the stage. She poses for a photo with Lt. Gov Julianna Stratton, taken by Attorney General Kwame Raoul, then Stratton and Raoul switch so Raoul can get a photo with the new mayor as well. 

12:01 p.m.: Lightfoot steps to the podium, prompting Ald. Gilbert Villegas to move that the City Council recess until May 29 at 10 a.m. The Council is recessed and will have its first meeting next Wednesday. 

11:58 a.m.: Father Thomas J. Hurley, pastor at Old St. Patrick's Church, takes the podium to deliver the benediction, joking that he felt like he was in a Catholic Church after communion, with so many people leaving early. He delivers a message of unity among Chicagoans, no matter what baseball team they root for or train line they might take. 

11:55 a.m.: Lizz Wright performs "Morning Has Broken," accompanied by Kenny Banks. 

11:54 a.m.: Lightfoot wraps up her speech by saying that "if we follow these four stars... we can once agagin become a city that families want to move to, not run away from."

"No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter your circumstance in life, Chicago is now on a mission to include you, to join hands with you, to share power with you, and to give you reason to believe that we can all pull in the same direction to make Chicago, better, together," she says, ending her speech by saying, "If we follow the Great Commandment together, as neighbors, our great city will shine."

11:49 a.m.: Lightfoot recalls a church hymn, reciting "Pass me not, O gentle Savior" and saying this principle - paying attention to the plight of the suffering - will be the city's guiding light in the days to come.

11:46 a.m.: Lightfoot brings up the wave of state legislatures across the country passing anti-abortion measures, saying "We must stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless in the face of the hateful legislation designed to control our bodies, our choices. We cannot go back – not in Chicago, not as a nation. We will join together and we will fight."

11:41 a.m.: Lightfoot says the fourth star is integrity, cracking a joke: ""I know, putting Chicago government and integrity in the same sentence may seem a little strange."

"But that's going to change," she said. "For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready, because reform is here."

"When public officials cut shady backroom deals, they get rich and the rest of us get the bill," Lightfoot continued.

"When some people get their property taxes cut in exchange for campaign cash, they get the money, and sure enough, we get the bill," Lightfoot said. "These practices have gone on here for decades. This practice breeds corruption. Stopping it isn’t just in the city’s interest. It’s in the City Council’s own interest."

"No official in the City of Chicago, elected or appointed, should ever profit from his office. Never. Ever," Lightfoot said, to raucous applause, with Ald. Ed Burke, who was criminally charged with corruption in January, on the stage behind her. [[510165461, C]]

11:37 a.m.: Lightfoot says the third guiding star on the Chicago flag is stability, saying, "We must start with getting our fiscal house in order."

The city's operating budget at least half a billion dollars in the red, and the four city-obligated pension funds combined are funded at 27 percent - well below what's considered healthy at 80 percent. Lightfoot says "we must tackle this problem head on." 

"We have an outsize structural deficit, a persistent and growing pension debt, and other costs that that threatens our financial stability," she said. "We are spending a significant percentage of every dollar just to service our pension debt alone and too much of that money is being sent to banks and Wall Street bond firms instead of going to our rebuild our neighborhoods, reduce our property taxes and revitalize our transportation system." 

11:34 a.m.: Lightfoot says the second guiding star on Chicago's flag should be education, saying, "Every child gets a quality education. That's our business, no matter what."

She vows to expand early childhood education, to work to set up apprenticeships for students in vocational and technical training, as well as to connect students to employers so they can start working as soon as they graduate. 

"I’m thrilled to see so many young people in the audience—my next few words are for you and all of your peers across the city: you have the most at stake in the city’s future, just as the city’s future most depends on you." Lightfoot said.

"We need your energy, creativity, intelligence, and dedication. There’s hard work ahead of us. But we will do that work, because we believe you and in the vast, still-untapped potential of this great city."

11:29 a.m.: Lightfoot says we should reimagine the four stars on Chicago's flag, which stand for major events in the city's history, to face a new era. She says the first star should stand for safety in every neighborhood, speaking at length on Chicago's violence. 

"Public safety must not be a commodity that is only available to the wealthy," she says, saying it demands "all of us, united together" and promising "the city will lead and we've already begun this work." 

Lightfoot announces a "Mayor's Office of Public Safety," to be led by a deputy mayor, that will be tasked with "developing and implementing a comprehensive violence prevention strategy."

11:22 a.m.: Lightfoot gets emotional, voice cracking and tears welling in her eyes as she introduces her mother, who is also crying as the crowd applauds. [[510168512, C]]

"There's one person who you are about to meet who laid the foundation for everything that I am today. I want to introduce you to a former elected official with us, a one-time school board member from my hometown of Massillon. She's my role model, my champion, the woman on whose dreams and high expectations propelled me through life, my mother, Ann Lightfoot." 

Lightfoot points out her siblings Derek, Angela, Brian, and Stacy as well, saying nothing could keep them or her mother from attending the inauguration. 

11:21 a.m.: "Most importantly I want to thank the people of Chicago who had the courage to put their faith in a newcomer and the optimisim to join this moment. We stand today at a time of great hope and possibility. I can't help but feel the spirit of the great, late Mayor Harold Washington." 

11:20 a.m.: Lightfoot calls for a round of applause for all of the members of City Council, highlighting the 12 brand new aldermen. She also thanks Emanuel and Amy Rule for their contributions to the city, at which point the couple stands and acknowledges the crowd. Lightfoot noted that Emanuel's staff worked hard to make the transition smooth. 

11:19 a.m.: Lightfoot acknowledges the historic nature of her inauguration, garnering a standing ovation when she calls herself Chicago's first black female mayor and the city's first openly gay mayor.  [[510167582, C]]

The crowd cheers even more wildly when she notes that women of color now hold all three citywide offices in Chicago. 

11:16 a.m.: "As I stand as your mayor, humble and hopeful, honored to be the 56th mayor of this great city," Lightfoot says, beginning her inaugural address.

"I'm looking ahead to a city of safe streets and strong schools for every child, regardless of neighborhood or zip code," she continues. "A city where people want to grow old and not flee. A city of sanctuary against fear, where no one must hide in the shadows. A city that is affordable for families and seniors, and where every job pays a living wage." 

11:15 a.m.: Lori Lightfoot is now officially Chicago's 56th mayor. She paces the stage a bit, waving to the crowd, who cheers loudly. 

11:14 a.m.: Lightfoot steps to the front of the stage, joined by her wife and daughter, and takes the oath of office, administered by Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. [[510167572, C]]

11:09 a.m.: Rabbi Capers C. Funnye Jr. of Beth Shalom B'Nai Zaken, delivers the blessing, with Lightfoot to take her oath of office next. 

11:07 a.m.: City Treasurer Melissa Conyears, standing with her husband Ald. Jason Ervin, as well as several other family members - including her young daughter holding the bible, takes her oath of office, administered by Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville. 

11 a.m.: At City Hall, Lightfoot's official portrait is about to be added to the wall of photos of all of Chicago's previous mayors and Emanuel's name is about to be taken off the mayor's office door, with Lightfoot's to be added. 

10:59 a.m.: Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, of the Lincoln Park Presbytarian Church, takes the podium to deliver a prayer for peace, saying, "I'm so excited to be here with you today as we make her-story."

"We heard throughout the campaign from our new mayor that as a city, we are better together. Being better together means no one gets left behind," Brown says, eliciting applause. She leads a call-and-response chant with the audience: "We are enough and we have enough." 

10:55 a.m.: Valencia calls the roll, naming each alderman individually, many met with raucous cheers from the crowd. A quorum is established. Under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, the inauguration is considered a meeting of the City Council because all 50 members are present. Twelve of Chicago's 50 aldermen are new to the council, the most diverse in the city's history. 

10:52 a.m.: City Clerk Anna Valencia takes her oath of office, marking the beginning of her second term in office. She then administers the oath of office to all 50 aldermen simultaneously. The crowd onstage rejoices, hugging one another as the audience applauds. 

10:50 a.m.: Imam Tariq I. El-Amin, of Masjid Al-Taqwa, delivers the prayer for guidance. 

10:46 a.m.: Alfreda Burke and Rodrick Dixon, accompanied by Fred Nelson III, perform the musical selection "Make Them Hear You," receiving a standing ovation from the audience. 

10:43 a.m.: Rev. Dr. L. Bernard Jakes, senior pastor at West Point Missionary Baptist Church, leads the invocation. 

10:39 a.m.: Miguel Cervantes, of Chicago's "Hamilton," performs the National Anthem. 

10:37 a.m.: Emanuel issues the official call to order, banging the gavel before the Phoenix Military Academy JROTC performs the posting of the colors and student Arturo Ballesteros recites the Pledge of Allegiance. 

10:36 a.m.: Lightfoot, her wife Amy Eshleman and their daughter Vivian walk onto the stage, greeting several of the dignitaries around them before taking their place at the center of the stage. 

10:35 a.m.: Emanuel and wife Amy Rule take their places in the first row onstage, following Sens. Durbin and Duckworth, as well as Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his wife, first lady MK Pritzker. 

10:33 a.m.: Several other notable guests arrive on the stage, including former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has largely been absent from the public eye since leaving office in 2011. 

10:25 a.m.: Amy Morton, a Steppenwolf ensemble member serving as emcee of the event, makes an announcement asking the audience to silence their phones. Chicago aldermen and one guest apiece, the majority of them spouses, begin to file onto the stage, with each couple announced as they arrive. 

10:20 a.m.: The official program, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., has yet to begin. Members of the audience continue to mill around the arena and all chairs onstage remain empty. 

10:05 a.m.: Other notable guests have arrived, including Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and whose job security remains in flux. For now, Lightfoot has said she plans to keep Johnson as Chicago's top cop through the summer to address violence, but then would re-evaluate later. 

Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats, have arrived. Duckworth said she believes Lightfoot will "talk about the plans and how we're coming together."

"You will see that Dick Durbin is here. I’m here," Duckworth continued, adding, "We’re going to support her from every step of the way."

9:55 a.m.: Most seats in the arena are filled and the official program, beginning with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's call to order, is scheduled to begin in just minutes. 

9:40 a.m.: Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has arrived and discussed his office's work with Lightfoot on the Chicago Police Department's consent decree, born of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into CPD's practices. 

Of Lightfoot, Raoul said, "I've worked with her as she headed up the police accountability task force, our offices respectively are parties to a consent decree."

"I'm optimistic," Raoul continued, adding, "I really think she has the philosophy to be a strong leader with regards to public safety."

9:10 a.m.: Lightfoot's mother Ann Lightfoot takes her seat in the front row of the arena. Ann Lightfoot, 90, served on the school board in their hometown of Massillon, Ohio, and told her daughter in February that she hoped Lightfoot's candidacy would open doors for others.  [[510161421, C]]

"I’m going back many many years of wonderful memories," Ann Lightfoot said, growing emotional.

"Lori has always been a leader. From the time she was a little girl, she has always said ‘I will be the president, I’ll be the leader of the group.’ And she was. She was the leader from day one," she continued. [[510163142, C]]

9:06 a.m.: Kathy Byrne, the daughter of Chicago's first female mayor Jane Byrne, recalls a beautiful day ahead of her mother's inauguration 40 years ago and said her mother's advice to Lightfoot would be to "beware of City Council."

"It's not always going to be peaches and cream with them and they are going to be taking the new mayor’s measure every day, every way," Kathy Byrne said. "Whether it’s a huge policy issue like affordable housing or equity, or how many tree trimmers is my ward going to have this spring, they will be ready to circle like a shark tank." [[510163152, C]]

"I think everyone wants her to succeed so tremendously," Kathy Byrne continued. "If you look at the difference between 40 years ago and now, if you look at the City Council, you are going to have a completely different array of representation for this city. So it's almost as if... the city went forward and the representation is catching up to us."

9 a.m.: Live coverage begins on NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago, which can be found in both apps and in the video player above. 

8:35 a.m.: Among the notable guests who have arrived are Rev. Jesse Jackson, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Lightfoot's opponent in the April runoff election. 

"Half the population of the county is in the city of Chicago, I live in the city of Chicago and it's really important that we work together," Preckwinkle said.

Another former mayoral candidate, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said, Lightfoot is "a good person and she's a fighter. Chicago needs a fighter but they also need someone who sees people and knows people feel invisible in this city and who has a level of compassion and empathy that I think has been missing for awhile."

8:30 a.m.: People are starting to mill into the arena and fill the seats. The pre-program has begun, with the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, dressed in black with ties of all different colors, singing on a staircase inside Wintrust. [[510160041, C]]

8 a.m.: Lines have formed at the public entrance, with a sizable crowd braving a windy morning, waiting to get in to the arena. One spectator, Joyce Whaley, said she took the day off of work to come to the inauguration because it's historic and she thinks Lightfoot has the "fire" to make changes, "ruffle some feathers" and "bring our city back." 

7:45 a.m.: Chicago's new City Council are having breakfast at Wintrust ahead of the inauguration ceremony, arriving at the arena through the participant entrance. 

7:32 a.m.: The @chicagosmayor Twitter account, previously run by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's staff (now archived under @MayorRahm), has officially been transitioned to Lightfoot, who sent her first two tweets, one reading "Mic check. #ChicagoInaugural"

7:30 a.m.: Doors open at Wintrust Arena in 30 minutes, with roughly 10,000 people expected to attend. Inside, hundreds of folding chairs are set up on in the center of the arena, with dozens more onstage and bleacher seating surrounding. The jumbotron displays a large sign reading "Shine on Chicago" and "Inauguration 2019," along with the hashtag #ChicagoInaugural. 

7:05 a.m.: Lightfoot's campaign Twitter account (@LightfootForChi) tweets a photo looking out from the podium at Wintrust, captioned "Last mic check." [[510159761, C]]


8:09 p.m.: Lightfoot's team sends out a statement that she will sign her first executive order at 12:45 p.m. Monday. The order will lay out a process to end aldermanic privilege, which allows individual aldermen to block city ordinances within their own wards. This fulfills a campaign promise, that was met with resistance from City Council, who would need 35 votes to override it. 

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