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Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s New Mayor, Breaks All Kinds of Glass Ceilings

Lori Lightfoot is African American and openly gay, and she’s sending a strong message of inclusivity. Meet the woman who aims to give Chicago a rebirth.

The Windy City has a new mayor who shows just how diverse our political leaders are becoming. Meet Lori Lightfoot, age 56, who was just sworn in as Chicago’s first black female and openly gay leader, breaking several glass ceilings in one fell swoop.

The new mayor, a Democrat, gave an inspiring speech as she took office, promising, “I’m looking ahead to a city of safe streets and strong schools for every child.” She added, “A city where people want to grow old and not flee. A city of sanctuary against fear where no one must hide in the shadows. A city that is affordable for families and seniors, and where every job pays a living wage. … A city that holds equity and inclusion as our guiding principles.” Looking on from the front row—and receiving a special shout-out—was Lori’s 90-year-old mother, Ann Lightfoot, who traveled in from Ohio.

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New Kid on the Block

This is Lori’s first elected position. She was previously a federal prosecutor and a corporate lawyer and had several high-level appointments in the City of Chicago, including president of the Chicago Police Board.

Her victory means that Chicago is both the largest city in America to be led by a woman and also the biggest in history to have an openly LGBTQ mayor. Lori is married to Amy Eshleman, former assistant commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, and gave her a big smooch at the inauguration; they have an 11-year-old daughter.

The message is clear that times are changing just from looking at this couple, but here’s how the new mayor put it: “Out there tonight a lot of little girls and boys are watching. They’re watching us. And they’re seeing the beginning of something, well … a little different. They’re seeing a city reborn, a city where it doesn’t matter what color you are, where it sure doesn’t matter how tall you are, where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love with all your heart. … Every child out there should know this: Each of you, one day, can be mayor of Chicago.”

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By Janet Siroto


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