Chicago mayor election: Lori Lightfoot announces reelection bid

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot officially kicked off her bid for a second term Tuesday, touting successes and taking on her critics.

"Look I get it, I don't look or sound like any other mayor you've ever had before and I've had to fight to get a seat at the table 33 and like so many in our city, I've had to fight to have my voice heard," Lightfoot said in her campaign video.

Some 250 supporters attended a campaign kickoff fundraiser on the North Side as the mayor got ready to take her message to the voters that she believes she deserves a second term to finish what she started three years ago.

She spoke about her record of accomplishments, talked about investing in communities that have been forgotten," said 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas.

"Basically, she's got more work to do," said 28th Ward Alderman Jason Ervin. "But I thought the mood was great kicking it off, and I think it's a good thing."

In her video announcement, Lightfoot said she's a fighter who is ready to fight for Chicago for another four years, putting her spin on what critics say is an abrasive leadership style that's fueled conflict with the teacher and police unions, in a term marked by COVID shutdowns, civil unrest, and a perception by many that crime is out of control.

"The fact is because of you, Chicago is coming back," Lightfoot said. "When we got knocked down by COVID, we came together as a city and we got right back up because that's who we are and that's how we've been able to make so much progress despite all that's been thrown at us."

"That's something she's been saying for months now, that she inherited a mess and she had to go through the pandemic. She had to go through civil unrest. She had to go through violence, and she came out stronger than ever. That's going to be her message going forward," said ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington.

"Mayor Lightfoot has led us through the toughest three years I think of the city's history, and she deserves another four years, for sure," said Gail Morse, fundraiser attendee.

"The crime issue is her Achilles heel. That's the one thing that she is going to have to answer for at all cost. That is the biggest concern that I'm hearing from voters," Washington said.

But on the heels of three law enforcement officers being shot in the line of duty in the last week, Lightfoot Monday riled many in the criminal justice system with a comment.

"Given the exacting standards that the state's attorney has for charging a case - which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt - when those charges are brought, these people are guilty," Lightfoot said Monday.

Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell Jr. noted Chicago's history of wrongful convictions and false confessions said the mayor was just wrong to equate charges to guilt before someone even goes to trial.

"The Cook County Public Defender's Office, in the last calendar year, have represented folks in over 10,000 cases where there was a finding of not guilty or charges were dismissed," she said.

Without naming Lightfoot, the county's chief judge issued a statement saying, "a recent claim that all those accused of violent crimes are 'guilty' and should be in jail prior to trial is wrong on both the law and the facts."

But with six challengers already in the race, the ACLU said the mayor was doing some political posturing in an election year.

"It's really sad to see someone who, you know, as well trained as a lawyer and a former prosecutor, elevate politics over constitutional rights in the way that the mayor did," said ACLU of Illinois Communications Director Ed Yohnka.
A former top prosecutor defended the mayor's underlying message and believes she let her emotions get the best of her.

"I know as a fact she worked on wrongful convictions is acutely aware of the presumption of innocence. I don't think the public should beat her up too much on this she let the emotions get the best and she knows," Former 1st Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Bob Milan.

But the mayor has been beset by violent crime, from three law enforcement officers being shot in the last week, to shootings in River North and other neighborhoods.

"Crime issue is her Achilles heel," Washington said. "That's one thing that she is going to have to answer for at all costs. That is the biggest concern that I'm hearing from voters. That's an issue that touches every voter in the city, and she's going to have to address that one head-on."

The Republican National Committee released a statement in response to Lightfoot's announcement.

"Hundreds dead, out-of-control violent crime, and $6.00 per gallon gas is the reality Chicagoans live with daily. Lori Lightfoot is living in an alternate reality if she thinks her track record will stand up in a bid for another term as mayor," said RNC Spokesperson Preya Samsundar.

Six other candidates have announced their mayoral run.

Roderick Sawyer became the second city council member to announce a mayoral run Thursday, joining 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez. He is also the sixth candidate overall to announce a run, joining businessman Willie Wilson, State Representative Kam Buckner, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas and Frederick Collins, a veteran Chicago police officer.

Buckner released a statement after Lightfoot's announcement, saying "Mayor Lightfoot has proven to be utterly ill-equipped to lead Chicago...Instead of a public safety plan, she's raised bridges, put up barricades and demanded curfews."

Wilson released a statement that said, in part, "Mayor Lightfoot has been an embarrassment to our city. My worse mistake was endorsing her to be our mayor. I welcome her entry into the race because she has a failed record of leadership. I will fix our city and make sure that our residents are safe in their neighborhoods, on trains and buses."
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