With the race behind them, Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle came together for a unity event Wednesday with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., religious leaders, elected officials and community activists.
Lightfoot defeated Preckwinkle in a landslide Tuesday to become the first African-American woman and openly gay person to be elected mayor of Chicago.
“It’s been a hard-fought campaign. I think it’s worth noting that we outlined some of the same challenges, particularly investments in our neighborhoods, many of whom have struggled for decades with disinvestment and neglect,” Preckwinkle said Wednesday morning.
“We talked about strengthening our public schools and addressing the challenges of police (and) community relations. I have pledged to work with her on addressing all of those challenges while I continue the work of the county.”
Lightfoot thanked and congratulated Preckwinkle on her mayoral campaign. “She deserves our respect and she will have my personal commitment,” Lightfoot said Wednesday morning. “While this was a spirited campaign, those shared values will serve us well as we work together for the good of the city and the good of the county.”
Jackson, who did not endorse a candidate in the race, called for the unity event ahead of the runoff election and had each candidate sign a pledge to hold such a conference.
“It’s time for the healing to begin and the building of a better and fairer Chicago,” Jackson said in a statement. “It’s time for the entire city, all 50 wards and 77 neighborhoods to come together and support the new mayor as she strives to make Chicago one big tent where everybody is in and nobody is left out.”
The Rev. Michael Pfleger called it a great day for the future. “I believe if we all come together … and do what’s best for the people of Chicago, Chicago ain’t seen nothing yet. … It’s a new day.”
When asked by reporters how she would bring all the various factions and community activists together, Lightfoot said the unity event was a good start. “I think if we open up government and put our people first and come together in the spirit of cooperation, (it’ll) go a long way in bringing people together.”
Lightfoot, who won all 50 wards, said diversity will be central to her office. “I want to make sure we’re good and just and inclusive of every neighborhood of Chicago,” she said. “I got a mandate for change from every neighborhood of the city.”
The event took place Wednesday morning at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition National Headquarters on the city’s South Side.