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Lori Lightfoot becomes the first Chicago mayor in 40 years to lose re-election

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for re-election Tuesday, ending her historic run as the city’s first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve in the position.

Ms Lightfoot’s defeat makes her the city’s first one-term mayor in four decades.

Lightfoot, a Democrat, failed to get enough votes in the nine-person race to move on to an April 4 runoff election

Despite no experience of running for office, Ms Lightfoot won her first election for mayor by a large margin in 2019 by positioning herself as a political outsider keen to tackle corruption.

During her re-election campaign, she touted her record of supporting workers, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but the former prosecutor found herself assailed by rivals over the city’s crime rate.

Crime rose sharply during Ms Lightfoot’s tenure and opinion polls consistently put it at the top of the list of voter concerns.

Paul Vallas, a former CEO of Chicago schools, will face Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union.

Ideologically, the choice between Vallas and Johnson is stark. Vallas ran as a moderate law-and-order candidate, while Johnson ran on an unabashedly progressive agenda.

But Chicagoans sent a message that they wanted change, rejecting both an incumbent mayor and a sitting congressman. Lightfoot is the first incumbent elected Chicago mayor to lose re-election since 1983, when Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, lost her primary.

Lightfoot conceded defeat Tuesday night at her party in downtown Chicago, saying, “Obviously we didn’t win the election today, but I stand here with my head held high.”

Vallas was widely expected to emerge from the first round of voting, having built his campaign around a tough-on-crime theme and garnering support in the vote-rich northern and northwestern sides of the city. He also got the backing of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.

“We will have a safe Chicago. We will make Chicago the safest city in America,” he said Tuesday night.

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Written by Jamil Johnson