Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot kicks off inaugural weekend

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CHICAGO — Lori Lightfoot will become Chicago’s first openly gay black female mayor in three days.

The Mayor-elect kicked off her inaugural weekend with a breakfast with her transition team Friday morning at Malcolm X College.

Four-hundred members of various transition committees are presenting a report on their priorities to the next mayor.

She has set an ambitious agenda for her first 100 days in office. First, getting through Memorial Day weekend, which tends to be violent in the city.

She told reporters they should expect to see sweeping changes when she takes office.

“Change is difficult for people and I recognize that.  But I ran on change.  People voted for change and I’ll deliver change.  And part of that, a big part of that has to be making sure that alderman have a voice, but not a veto,” Lightfoot said.

She also plans to tackle city finances. Lightfoot must come up with a budget that deals with a bigger hole than expected. The Emanuel administration revealed this week the deficit may be $200 million more than Lightfoot expected due to higher pension costs. That would bring the total shortfall to about $700 million.

Another priority is city council reform. Lightfoot already informed aldermen how she intends to rein in the so-called “aldermanic privilege.”

Also Friday, Lightfoot’s unveiled her picks for key committee chairmanships.

In a big shake up, Lightfoot has tapped Emanuel critic Scott Waguespack to lead Finance. And she’s removing longtime Budget Chairman Carrie Austin from her post tapping Pat Dowell to take over.

Tom Tunney takes the lead in Zoning.

And Gilbert Villegas becomes Economic Development Chair and Lightfoot’s floor leader.

Alderman Anthony Beale is left without a key post. And Alderman Ed Burke, returning to the council, is not expected to hold a leadership position.

Lightfoot admits not everyone is happy.

“Change is difficult for people and I recognize that but I ran on change, people voted for change and I’m going to deliver change,” she said.
In a first for the City Council, Lightfoot plans to televise committee meetings. And she announced the city will no longer cut off water to people late on their water bill.

“You can’t turn off water connections to housing,” she said. “Water is a basic, basic human right. If you’re turning off water you’re effectively evicting people.”

Progressives have high hopes for Lightfoot’s term. This week they called for a $15 minimum wage by 2021, a boost in CPS funding and more affordable housing.

“We’ve put forth proposals that are all shovel ready,” Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa.

Lightfoot’s inauguration will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Wintrust Arena. She will become Chicago’s 56th mayor.

Twelve new city council members, a new treasurer and city clerk will also be sworn in.


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