After none of the 14 candidates in Chicago's mayoral race received a majority of the vote on Tuesday, a runoff election was declared between the top two contenders. Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle are scheduled to face off in April, which means it's certain that Chicago's next mayor will be a black woman for the first time ever.
"No matter which one of us wins, Chicago will make history on April 2nd by electing the first Black woman mayor," Lightfoot tweeted on Tuesday. "It's long overdue."
Chicago is the 11th most diverse city in the United States, according to WalletHub, and the 2010 U.S. Census indicated that black residents make up nearly 33 percent of its population. Despite this, the city has never elected a female black mayor. Jane Byrne, Chicago's first female mayor, served from 1979 to 1983; Harold Washington succeeded her and was the city's first black mayor, serving until 1987. Since then there's been just one other black mayor: Eugene Sawyer, who served from 1987 to 1989.
"This is a significant milestone in Chicago and Illinois history," Equality Illinois said in a Tuesday statement posted to Twitter. "Representation matters!" Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson also weighed in: "I could not be prouder of my beloved city," he tweeted on Tuesday. "We made herstory tonight."
Lightfoot received a plurality of the votes on Tuesday and Preckwinkle trailed her by just under 1.5 points, according to results reported by WLS-TV. With 98 percent of precincts reporting on Wednesday, Lightfoot had received 17.5 percent of the vote and Preckwinkle had gotten 16.1 percent. The race was expected to be a close one, according to Crain's Chicago Business.
Preckwinkle is the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and has served in the position since 2010. She is campaigning on a $15 minimum wage, education and criminal justice reform, fighting the presence of lead in city drinking water, and transgender rights, among other things. She also hopes that her experience in government will earn her votes.
"I have both local government experience and management experience in a large unit of government," Preckwinkle told reporters on Tuesday, per WLS-TV. "And I think that those are things that will appeal to the voters."
Lightfoot is a former federal prosecutor and has served as the president of the Chicago Police Board. She's also the first mayoral candidate in the city's history who is openly queer, according to Equality Illinois. Lightfoot is trying to position herself as the anti-establishment candidate, per WLS-TV.
"I am an independent reform candidate," Lightfoot told reporters on Tuesday, per WLS-TV. "I do not represent the past. I am not tied to the broken political machine. I didn't aspire to climb the ranks of the Cook County Democratic Party to be the party boss. I am not affiliated with Ed Burke, or Joe Berrios or anyone else who really represents the old corrupt Chicago way."
Chicago's current mayor is Rahm Emanuel, who has been serving in the position since 2011. Emanuel shocked many people when he announced that he would not seek reelection in September of last year. The runoff election for the city's next mayor will take place on April 2.