Lori Lightfoot

Lori Lightfoot Sworn in as Chicago's First Openly Gay, Black Female Mayor

Lightfoot delivered a powerful speech in which she reimagined the four stars on Chicago's flag

Lori Lightfoot was sworn into office Monday as the Chicago's 56th mayor - and one unlike any before her.

Lightfoot is Chicago's first black female mayor, as well as the city's first openly gay mayor. She took the oath of office at 11:15 a.m. at Wintrust Arena in the city's South Loop, delivering her inaugural address immediately thereafter. 

In her speech, she reimagined the four stars on the Chicago flag as the city's new guiding principles: safety, education, stability and integrity. 

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

Lightfoot also vowed to expand early childhood education, push for equity in educational opportunities across the city, regardless of neighborhood, and connect students with training and employment opportunities. 

With respect to integrity, Lightfoot cracked a joke before delivering some of the most powerful lines of her address.

"I know, putting Chicago government and integrity in the same sentence may seem a little strange," she said. "But that's going to change."

"For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform," she said. "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.

"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.

Lightfoot cruised to victory on that message of reform in the April runoff election, defeating Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle with a nearly 50% margin of victory, winning all 50 wards across the city.

She ran on a platform of change, urging voters to "bring in the light" to a city government with a reputation for corruption. 

In addition to Lightfoot, Chicago Treasurer-elect Melissa Conyears-Ervin and City Clerk Anna Valencia were sworn into office during Monday's inauguration, marking the first time all three citywide elected positions are held by women of color.

All 50 members of Chicago's City Council - some returning, some fresh faces - were inaugurated during Monday's ceremony as well.

Together, they will face a tough road ahead. The summer months are rapidly approaching, along with Chicago's violence that typically spikes in warmer weather.

She has said she plans to meet with CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson to discuss the department's plans for the summer but that she would hold off on making a decision on whether to replace him until after the summer is over.

In confronting another looming issue, Lightfoot will head to the bargaining table when the Chicago teachers' contract is up in June.

Also pressing? Chicago's tenuous financial situation, with the city's operating budget at least half a billion dollars in the red, and the four city-obligated pension funds combined funded at 27 percent - well below what's considered healthy at 80 percent.

But first on Lightfoot's agenda Monday is a fulfilling a campaign promise to end aldermanic privilege, which allows individual aldermen to block city ordinances within their own wards.

Lightfoot was scheduled to sign her first executive order, laying out the process to end aldermanic prerogative, at 12:45 p.m. at City Hall, located at 121 N. LaSalle St. in the Loop.

Shortly thereafter, Lightfoot and her wife Amy Eshleman planned to host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. at the mayor’s office on the fifth floor of City Hall to greet her new constituents. The open house is open to the public and no tickets are required.

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