CHCIAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot marks the halfway point of her term with challenges on multiple fronts.
Among them is trying to safely reopen Chicago after the COVID-19 nightmare.
“I certainly didn’t anticipate when I became mayor that I would be dealing with a global pandemic,” she said. “I think it’s made me even more empathetic.”
But Lightfoot seldom pulls her punches.
When asked about feuds with aldermen and journalist and a hack to her emails, Lightfoot says she is still enjoying the job.
“I do enjoy the job, and look, I ran and came into office to break up the status quo,” she said. “And there are a lot of entrenched interests, some powerful, some at other levels who are not happy that I’m pushing them outside their comfort zone.”
Lightfoot, who campaigned as an expert on public safety, is still trying to get Chicago’s stubborn violence under control. The mayor promised civilian oversight of police within her first 100 days. It has not happened.
“I absolutely still support and will be offering my own proposal regarding civilian oversight but police policy is complicated,” she said.
She said she plans to introduce her ordinance “soon.”
Despite a first year that saw violence increase, the mayor is sticking with her handpicked Police Superintendent David Brown.
“He’s exceeding my expectations,” she said. “David Brown is an incredibly thoughtful and strong leader.”
After a teachers strike and bitter labor unrest, Lightfoot is crawling towards a partially elected school board. But she strongly opposes a bill in Springfield that would create a 21-member elected board.
“Twenty-one people deciding policy procedure – everyone I know that looked at that thinks that thinks that that’s going to lead to chaos,” she said.
Lightfoot defended her most unusual decision to only invite Black and Brown journalists for one-one-one interviews to mark her second year.
The move infuriated the mostly white City Hall press corps.
“Look, I’m thinking is this one day when we are looking at the two-year anniversary of my inauguration, as a woman of color, as a lesbian, it’s important to me that diversity is put front in center,” she said.
When asked if it was payback for feuds she said no.
“It has nothing to do with that,” she said. “The facts are the facts. Look at the people who cover City Hall.”
Lightfoot is not yet ready to talk about running for reelection. As discussed in the interview, she has major campaign promises left undone.