Democratic Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, has failed to secure a re-election bid as no candidate reached the 50% vote threshold required to be elected. Lightfoot was up against eight other candidates, including Chicago Public Schools CEO and city budget director Paul Vallas, who had a significant lead in the polls ahead of the election.
Crime was a central theme in the race, with the city’s soaring crime rate serving as the backdrop to Lightfoot’s dismal approval rating, according to one poll. Throughout Lightfoot’s tenure, Lightfoot received sharp criticism for her strained relationship with Chicago’s police force, which resulted in a significant reduction in police officer headcount coinciding with a rise in crime. Lightfoot oversaw the downsizing and “defunding” of the police during her time in office. Despite police department records indicating that homicides in Chicago rose to their highest number in 25 years during 2021, police presence continued to decrease in the city.
During Lightfoot’s tenure, Chicago experienced a higher rate of homicides and overall crime than New York City and Los Angeles. Lightfoot often dismissed Chicago’s evident crime and murder issue, at times claiming that Chicago was a “safe” city. She defended her record on the matter, claiming to have implemented a “multitiered strategy” to combat gang and gun crimes.
Vallas, who received enough votes to head to the runoff, portrayed himself as the law and order candidate and received support from Chicago’s police unions. He was also a sharp critic of Lightfoot’s handling of crime. Brandon Johnson, a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, will also be in the runoff against Vallas.
Chicago law allows for mail-in ballots received after election day to be counted as long as they are postmarked by February 28 and received by March 14. The mayoral candidates will vie for the seat on April 4.