CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot kicked off her re-election campaign Wednesday with stops in several neighborhoods across the city.

The election is eight months away so it’s likely the message will evolve. But for now Lightfoot’s campaign pitch is “stay the course.”

Lightfoot’s daylong campaign blitz took her to Ashburn, Greater Grand Crossing, Little Village, Garfield Park and Northalsted.

“The thing that we’re going to be doing as a part of this campaign is reminding people about what we’ve done and how we’ve delivered for them even through a pandemic,” she said.

Close City Council allies joined Lightfoot at each stop. Emma Mitts and Alderman Walter Burnett were among them.

“I want to thank the mayor for thinking about what other people are worried about,” Burnett said.

On the stump, Lightfoot is highlighting her help for struggling businesses and her signature INVEST South/West initiative. 

“We have invested literally, already in three years time, hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild this West Side,” Lightfoot said.

Polls show violent crime remains voters’ top concern.  The mayor said she gets it but she’s not changing her strategy or dumping Police Superintendent David Brown, as some have suggested.

Instead, Lightfoot is ratcheting up her criticism of the criminal justice system. 

“People want to be safe. They want to make sure that the criminal justice system is working for them,” she said. 

Some Lightfoot supporters like Jaime di Paulo of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce agree. 

“We can throw the blame on each other all we want and everything else but I think it’s not the mayor. It’s the judicial system is not throwing the book at those criminals and it’s not the mayor’s fault,” Di Paulo said.

So far five candidates have stepped up to challenge Lightfoot: Willie Wilson, Raymond Lopez, Kam Buckner, Paul Vallas and Roderick Sawyer. Five announced challengers but there will likely be more. Next February is a long way away.