Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Lori Lightfoot Sworn in as Chicago's First Black Lesbian Mayor

Lori Lightfoot

Chicago has just made history by inaugurating a new mayor — and she's a black queer woman. 

On Monday, Lori Lightfoot, a former U.S. attorney, was sworn in as the city's 56th mayor. She will be the first black woman and openly gay person to hold the office, and Chicago is now the largest U.S. city ever to have a mayor drawn from the LGBTQ population. Her event at the Wintrust Arena included performances by Miguel Cervantes of Chicago's Hamilton and the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, among others. 

“In this moment, I cannot help but look at all of you and think about what lies ahead and what we can be together. I’m looking ahead to a city of safe streets and strong schools for every child regardless of neighborhood or zip code,” Lightfoot said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. 

“A city where people want to grow old and not flee. A city of sanctuary against fear where no one must hide in the shadows. A city that is affordable for families and seniors and where every job pays a living wage. A city of fairness and hope and prosperity for the many, not just for the few, a city that holds equity and inclusion as our guiding principles.”

The event drew in an estimated crowd of 8,000 people. “For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform,” Lightfoot declared in her prepared remarks. “Well, get ready … because reform is here,” she added. “I campaigned on change, you voted for change, and I plan to deliver change to our government.”

“When public officials cut shady backroom deals, they get rich and the rest of us get the bill. When some people get their property taxes cut in exchange for campaign cash, they get the money and … we get the bill,” she said. These practices will end, she promised.

Lightfoot won in early April with a landslide election over Toni Preckwinkle, a former Chicago City Council member who is currently president of the Cook County Board. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman and White House aide, had decided not to run for reelection.

Emanuel, who has come in for criticism from some progressives for various policies, received praise from Lightfoot for making the transition smooth. Emanuel he and his wife, Amy Rule, sat next to Lightfoot, her wife, educational consultant Amy Eshleman, and their 11-year-old daughter, Vivian, during the ceremony.  In 2015, Emanuel appointed Lightfoot as president of the Chicago Police Board and then chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.

Lightfoot also gave a shout-out to her 90-year-old mother, who once served on the school board in their Ohio hometown and was present for the inauguration. “She’s my role model, my champion. The woman whose dreams and high expectations for me propelled me through life — my mother, Ann Lightfoot,” the new mayor said.

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