Whether Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle becomes the next mayor of Chicago, the 2019 runoff election is one for the history books, as the city elects its first African-American female mayor.
In fact, Chicago’s February election showcased some surprising aldermanic wins and, perhaps, a rejection of the Daley dynasty and Chicago’s longstanding Democratic political machine.
“It’s not just change in terms of [gender], but this election is also historic because it’s a change from the political machines that have governed us in the past,” said Connie Mixon, director of urban studies at Elmhurst College and co-editor of the book “Twenty-First Century Chicago.”
Maria de los Angeles Torres, professor of Latin American and Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the resistance against the political machine she’s witnessed during the course of the election is emblematic of an international trend.
“There is a resurgence in Chicago, as there seems to be worldwide, of the electorate bucking against corrupt regimes, I think that corruption really jumped to the number one priority for many of Chicago voters,” said Torres, who served as executive director on former Mayor Harold Washington’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs from 1983 to 1987.
Ava Thompson Greenwell, professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, said another key significance of the election is the physical appearance of the candidates.
“I am looking at them from the lens of them both being over 50, they’re not super young women, they both have grey hair,” she said. “I think sometimes the tendency is … that in order to be successful, you have to be under 50 and you have to color your hair. Something as simple as that gives hope to all women, but particularly black women, that they are valued even as they age.”
Thompson Greenwell, Mixon and Torres join us in discussion, along with John McCarron, an adjunct lecturer at DePaul University College of Communication and former longtime urban affairs columnist for the Chicago Tribune.