Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for a second term on Tuesday, a reflection of widespread dissatisfaction with her handling of crime.
Lightfoot made history as the first Black woman and first openly gay person to lead the city in 2019. But she saw her popularity plummet amid a spike in crime in Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Democrat, she is the first elected Chicago mayor to lose a reelection bid since 1983.
After Tuesday’s first round of voting, Paul Vallas, a former schools CEO backed by the police union, and Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, will advance to an April 4 runoff.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at an election night rally at Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council on February 28, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images
Speaking to supporters late on Tuesday night, Lightfoot said being Chicago’s mayor was “the honor of a lifetime” and that she “will be rooting and praying for our next mayor to deliver for the people of this city for years to come.”
Here’s a transcript of her concession speech in full:
So let me just do this. So thank you and thank everyone so much. I feel a lot of love in this room, as I felt every step of the way on this journey. I’ve called Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas to congratulate them on their victories in advancing to the runoffs. We were fierce competitors in these last few months, but I will be rooting and praying for our next mayor to deliver for the people of the city for years to come.
Four years ago, I looked into the camera and spoke directly to young people of color, who looked like me, and to every kid who felt like I did when I grew up. And I’m going to do that again tonight. I told you back then that anything is possible with hard work. And I want you to know that no matter what happens along the way, you should always believe that because it’s true. Believe that you can bring about change. Believe that you matter and believe that you can love who you want to love and do what you want to do and be who you want to be. You will not be defined by how you fall. You will be defined by how hard you work and how much you do good for other people.
Obviously, we didn’t win the election today but I stand here with my head held high and a heart full of gratitude. I am grateful to the millions of Chicagoans who came together as we made tough decisions, saw the struggles of our frontline workers and beat back a deadly pandemic.
I’m grateful that we worked together to remove a record number of guns off our streets, reduced homicides and started making real progress on public safety. I’m grateful that we were able to connect youth to mental health services, housing, education, job training, and legal services. Extraordinarily proud that we made investments in communities that have been neglected for decades with Invest Southwest. And putting over $2.2 billion into communities in our neighborhoods. That commitment simply must continue.
And I’m proud of the fact that we will deliver on the city’s largest ever investments in affordable housing and to achieve record investments in our public schools, adding school social workers, nurses and special education case managers. And you better believe I am grateful that we took on the machine and entrenched forces that held the city back for far too long. And regardless of tonight’s outcome, we fought the right fights and we put this city on a better path, no doubt about it.
Now as we all know in life, in the end, you don’t always win every battle, but you never regret taking on the powerful and bringing in the light. To my friends across the country, and my fellow mayors, never fear being brave and bold. I have always believed that when a door closes, another one opens and so it will be for me and Amy and Viv.
Thank you to my family for inspiring me, my love of our wife, my wife, our daughter and the rest of my family grows and grows and they have always stood by me through this, through thick and thin and tonight is no different. Thank you honey.
Thank you to our campaign team, the best in the business no doubt. Aand I want to say a special thanks to our incredible volunteers who did tremendous work, who did tremendous work, connecting us with voters and making the case for me every day all over the city. And to my friends in organised labor, thanks for your commitments and support and being with me, and being together on the battles that we fought on behalf of working Chicagoans. That work must continue.
I haven’t, I am honored to have been a partner in the work which as I said must continue. I’m eternally grateful to everyone who gave us their time, support and money and prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you. God bless this incredible city. It’s been the honor of a lifetime to be mayor. There’s more work to do. And I just want to say thank you all deeply, deeply from the bottom of my heart.