Lori Lightfoot officially became Mayor of Chicago Thursday morning at a swearing in ceremony at the Wintrust Arena on the Near South Side, becoming the city’s first black woman and openly LGBTQ person to hold the office.
“For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready because reform is here,” said Lightfoot in her 40-minute speech. “I campaigned on change, you voted for change, and I plan to deliver change to our government. That means restoring trust in our city’s government and finally bringing some real integrity to the way this city works.”
Lightfoot was sworn in alongside Chicago’s 50 aldermen, City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, and City Clerk Anna Valencia.
One of Lightfoot’s main focuses was on Chicago’s legacy of corruption, promising on her first day to sign an executive order meant to curb aldermanic privilege.
“This does not mean our Aldermen won’t have power in their communities, she said. It does not mean our Aldermen won’t be able to make sure the streetlights are working or the parking signs are in the right place or any of the thousands of good things they do for people every day. It simply means ending their unilateral, unchecked control over on every single thing that goes on their wards. Alderman will have a voice, not a veto.”
Lightfoot also promised to tackle education and public safety, and announced she will create a Mayor’s Office of Public Safety, which will be headed up by a Deputy Mayor.
“People cannot and should not live in neighborhoods that resemble a war zone,” she said.
In her speech Lightfoot also addressed some national issues, calling out southern states which recently passed legislation severely limiting the rights of women to have an abortion.
“As I stand here today, Georgia is also on my mind, as is Alabama and every other state that is enacting laws intended to deprive women of our rights,” said Lightfoot. “We must stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless in the face of the hateful legislation designed to control our bodies, our choices. We cannot go back – not in Chicago, not as a nation. We will join together and we will fight.”
Lightfoot has already signaled she make shake a few things up, particularly in City Council. On Friday she announced her proposals for committee chairs including naming alderman Scott Waguespack (32) as chair of the Finance Committee – arguably one of the most powerful positions on the council – which was held by Ed Burke for decades until he was charged by federal prosecutors with attempted extortion.
Lightfoot closed her speech out with a message of unity.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter your circumstance in life, Chicago is now on a mission to include you, to join hands with you, to share power with you, and to give you reason to believe that we can all pull in the same direction to make Chicago, better, together,” said Lightfoot.