Lori Lightfoot is set to become the first openly gay, African-American woman to serve as Chicago’s 56th mayor when she is sworn in on Monday, and Wintrust Arena will be filled to capacity—with all 8,000 seats accounted for—as Chicagoans are excited for Lightfoot’s term to begin. For Chicagoans, Lightfoot represents hope and what many believe will be change in a city that has been notorious for corrupt politicians and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top-down leadership.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the ceremony will be officiated by U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox, a longtime friend of the former federal prosecutor. Lightfoot is expected to place her hand on a bible gifted to her after her 1980 graduation from high school.
Lightfoot, 56, will be celebrating a few historic feats on Monday, as it’s been some 40 years since Chicago had a female mayor (Jane Byrne) and 36 years since Harold Washington, an African American, has held the position. Lightfoot, 56, is also a hell of a politician, having carried all 50 wards to win the election.
In one of the most “life comes at you fast moments,” it was retiring Mayor Rahm Emanuel who nominated Lightfoot as police board president and then helped raised her public profile even higher “by naming her to co-chair the Task Force on Police Accountability in the furor that followed release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video,” the Sun-Times reports.
Not only did Lightfoot take the baton Emanuel passed her and run with it, but she also took every opportunity to use that same baton to beat Emanuel over the head, and then held that baton high as she stood on his mayoral grave.
Emanuel, who served two terms as mayor, reportedly left City Hall to cheers and it’s unclear if those cheering were celebrating the embattled mayor’s tenure or his departure.
While Emanuel was reportedly trying to keep the Laquan McDonald shooting under wraps until after he won re-election, it was Lightfoot who was open with reporters about where to look during the hushed coverup and what they should be looking for.
In short, Lightfoot wasn’t a Chicago politician—part of an elaborate good-ole-boy system of protecting each other even when they are wrong. Despite being hired by Emanuel, Lightfoot had no allegiance to the soon-to-be former mayor; she had only an allegiance to the truth. Lightfoot would often use her social media platform to hold Emanuel’s feet to the fire.
Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule, will be seated next to Lightfoot, her wife, Amy Eshleman, and their 11-year-old daughter Vivian, Monday, during the two-hour ceremony that will include performances by Miguel Cervantes, who plays Alexander Hamilton in the Chicago production of Hamilton, the Sun-Times reports.
The program will also feature: “Chicago Sinfonietta, the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance and Latin Music Program, the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and the After School Matters Choir,” according to Sun-Times.
From the Sun-Times:
Also to be sworn in Monday are City Clerk Anna Valencia, who was appointed by Emanuel, then elected after running unopposed, and newly-elected City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, wife of Ald. Jason Ervin (28th). They are the first all woman of color team of citywide office holders Chicago has ever had.
Also taking the oath of office is a new City Council that has taken a sharp turn to the left.
It includes 12 new aldermen, 13 women, 20 African-Americans and 12 Hispanics. There are five gay aldermen, six Democratic Socialists, roughly 16 Progressives and as many as 33 regulars.
So now, the city waits for what it hopes will be change; and if Lightfoot’s past projects her future, then Chicagoans can expect a progressive leader who puts the people first.
“We’re gonna be a city that actually sees people, that hears them, that is respectful of the lived experience of people all over the city and not just a few,” she told the Sun-Times.
“We’re gonna open up city government. We’re gonna push for change. But, the other thing that I want to say is, no one mayor can do it alone. And we’re gonna issue a challenge to people all across the city to step up and think about ways they can dig down and do more. It’s not gonna quite be the John Kennedy moment of, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you,’ but something akin to that, that is reflective of the moment that we’re in.”