EXCLUSIVE: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot opens up about election defeat, reflects on past 4 years

Lightfoot reflected on what went wrong, as well what she hopes will be her legacy

Craig Wall Image
Monday, May 1, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Mayor Lightfoot opens up about election defeat
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot opened up about losing the 2023 Chicago Mayoral Election to Brandon Johnson in an exclusive interview with ABC7 Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It has been two months since the voters sealed the fate of Lori Lightfoot as a one-term mayor.

Lightfoot wound down her term in office, and in her only local TV interview since the election, publicly opened up about the election for the first time.

It was a tough loss for Lightfoot, who had confidently predicted during the campaign that she would win a second term. She reflected on what went wrong, as well what she hopes will be her legacy.

"Well, I think there were a variety of reasons. You know, again, I don't spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror," Lightfoot said.

SEE ALSO | Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over her final Chicago City Council meeting

When asked if anything could've changed the election's outcome, Lightfoot said, "Yeah. Three-to-four thousand more votes across Black Chicago. That's a difference-maker."

Lightfoot pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and the escalating violence that ensued as factors in her election loss.

"There's a lot of anger, frustration and fear that is present, not only in Chicago, but across our country. And, the winds of dissension continue to blow at a furious pace," Lightfoot said. "So, for me, the biggest challenge wasn't some particular person's name on the ballot. The biggest challenge was breaking through what I call that 'anger bubble.'"

Lightfoot brushed off the notion that her reputation of having a combative leadership style turned voters off, and that if she had tried to come across as more likable, the election outcome may have been different.

"It's a false narrative, as far as I'm concerned," Lightfoot said. "You can't get the kind of things done that we have gotten done through the most difficult circumstances without being able to build partnerships and coalitions. It wouldn't happen."

When asked what she hopes to be remembered for, Lightfoot said she doesn't have "those kinds of hopes."

"What I hope, is that the work that we have done in the weather - it's through the investments in youth, investments in health care, affordable housing, public safety, mental health, public health - I hope that that work will stand the test of time through the lives of the people who have been most affected by it," Lightfoot said.

READ MORE | Meeting of the mayors: Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Brandon Johnson begin transition of power

As for her successor, Lightfoot said it will be critical for Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson to rise above the fray and not be beholden to any special interests. But, she declined to discuss what they talked about in private.

"I am a person who believes in preparation. I'm a person who believes in taking issues on head-on. And, so, not surprisingly, I came in with a long list, and I ticked through each of those issues. But, importantly, I've offered to him since that initial meeting, and in subsequent conversation, I am here to help in any way that he would like. That offer doesn't expire on May 15," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said she will leave the mayor's office with no regrets. When asked what she will miss about being mayor, Lightfoot said, "there's a long list."

"My hope is that the challenges that we've faced around our own personal safety will subside," Lightfoot said. "I will miss the ability to have immediate impact on people's lives. That's the best part of the job."

But, Lightfoot said she doesn't see herself running for office again.

"I don't see myself running again for any office," Lightfoot said. "Politics is a part of everyday life. But, I'm done with electoral politics for myself."

As for her future plans, Lightfoot said she's not going to disclose that until after she leaves office on May 15. But, she does plan to stay in Chicago, and she said she is looking forward to being a private citizen again.

SEE ALSO | NYC mayor says Lori Lightfoot's reelection loss in Chicago is 'warning sign for the country'