Lightfoot fumbles reelection: How she did it


Parker Hanson

Chicago Bears fans, PV graduate Parker Hanson and Bettendorf graduate Lexi Wentink, pose for a picture at Soldier Field on Jan. 2, 2022.

Drake Hanson, Photo Manager

As the mayor of Chicago since 2019, Lori Lightfoot has been under fire her entire career because of her policies and poor handling of the crime rate in Chicago. Lightfoot also has the keen ability to botch any situation she gets herself into. 

This past year, the Chicago Bears announced that they were going to purchase an Arlington Heights property in the suburbs of Chicago in order to build a better football stadium and a new Chicago Bears campus. 

The Bears’ current property, Soldier Field, is the smallest stadium in the entire NFL. It has a capacity of 61,500, which is comparatively very low considering Soldier Field is located in the third largest city in the United States in terms of population. Soldier Field is also known for its poor playing conditions. The grass used on the field is lackluster and poorly maintained. There is also no roof or dome to cover the stadium, exposing the players and fans to Chicago’s harsh winters. 

Many fans also complain about the accessibility of the stadium. The traffic on Lake Shore Drive is a massacre on game days, the nearest train stop is around a 25-30 minute walk to Soldier Field and there are not enough gates to get fans into the stadium efficiently. 

Three weeks ago, on the Chicago Bears’ website, they released a statement that they are making further progress on closing on the Arlington Heights property. 

Lightfoot attempted to get the Bears to reconsider leaving Soldier Field by offering to build a roof over the stadium, as well as numerous other renovations. The project would cost around $2.2 billion dollars. When the Bears ignored the renderings for the renovations, Lightfoot went as far to threaten the Bears if they did leave Soldier Field; “There’s plenty of cities that have two NFL teams,” she said.

According to the statement, the new Arlington Heights Bears campus will “create more than 48,000 jobs, generate $9.4 billion in economic impact for the Chicagoland economy and provide $3.9 billion in new labor income.” 

The new renovations to Soldier Field may solve some of the issues concerning it, but it has nowhere near the economic impact that the Arlington Heights campus does. In contrast to the Arlington Heights property, the existing property is not an investment, but rather a $2.2 billion expense. The Bears are looking to invest into a new property in order to have a better stadium and provide much needed jobs for the Chicago economy. 

The improvements to Soldier Field do not create any long term jobs for Chicago but instead, more problems. If the $2.2 billion is used to renovate the field, taxpayers are going to be responsible for it. In fact, Chicago taxpayers are still paying off $640 million from the 2002 Soldier Field renovations. 

By offering to spend $2.2 billion dollars to renovate the stadium, Lightfoot has demonstrated that there is money in the city budget—and a substantial amount. Why doesn’t she use any of this money to clean up neighborhoods in Chicago or reinforce the police department?

This issue is something that one of the new candidates for mayor, Paul Vallas, mentioned as one of his top priorities for Chicago. Vallas claimed in his campaign that he can make Chicago a safer place by strengthening the Chicago Police Department and ensuring that more arrests are made for serious crimes

This past Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the reelection campaign, Lightfoot lost her bid for her second term after she only received 17% of the total amount of votes. Vallas had won 34% of the votes, and Brandon Johnson 20%. Because these top three did not get over 50% of the votes, there will be an election runoff between Vallas and Johnson held on April 4. 2023. 

Lightfoot is known for her failures throughout the city of Chicago. One of her major fault lines is her policy on crime and her inability to reduce crime rates. In 2020 and 2021, the number of homicides was 776 and 804, respectively, with 2021 being the deadliest year in over 25 years. 

In 2021, the total number of thefts and motor vehicle thefts was at 23,568. But in 2022, that number rose to 41,619, a 77% increase of the number of thefts in one year. 

At the season home opener for the White Sox, Lightfoot and Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker performed the first pitch. As they were walking out to the mound, Chicagoans showed their support for the both of them, booing them when their names were announced. 

PV graduate Alyce Brown lives on campus at Northwestern University. “I think she maybe didn’t have the right leadership skills to lead Chicago and it will be good to have someone new that isn’t hated by the whole city,” she shared. Brown is very right— Lightfoot has never held an elective role before becoming mayor, which reflects on her poor leadership.

Illinois resident Jake Parks sees eye to eye with Brown. “She has done absolutely nothing to help Chicago,” he said. “I’m just glad she is out of office. Citizens of Chicago finally learned to hand the reins over to someone with more drive to help them out.”

Not only was Lightfoot a poor mayor, but she is also a sore loser. When she was asked if she was treated fairly in the reelection campaign, she replied no and blamed sexism and racism for her loss; “I’m a Black woman in America. Of course,” Lightfoot said

Although Lightfoot is a woman of color, it was wrong of her to use her identity as a scapegoat for her poor leadership. Lightfoot is the first leader in Chicago history to be a woman of color, as well as a gay woman of color, yet none of those factors played a role in her disastrous handling of Chicago’s crime rate. What also makes her statement hypocritical is that in the 2019 mayoral election, Lightfoot beat Toni Preckwinkle, who is another woman of color. The candidate that finished behind the two Black women was a White man, William Daley. Furthermore, she may have forgotten that Brandon Johnson, the candidate who beat her in the reelection bid, is also a Black person. 

The citizens of Chicago hated Lightfoot, and for good reason. Stephen L. Miller, a Contributing Editor for The Spectator, said it best. “Perhaps Lori Lightfoot would have won if thousands of her voters had not been shot.”