There is no doubting that this is a historic time in the mayor’s office in the city of Chicago.
Lori Lightfoot was inaugurated on May 20, becoming the first black female mayor of the city and its first openly gay mayor.
She is the city’s second black mayor and second female mayor.
In succeeding Rahm Emanuel, Lightfoot will oversee a City Council that has many new aldermen after the February election brought sweeping changes.
Lightfoot is continuing those changes, and she is surely not done.
In her first official act as mayor, on her first day in office, Lightfoot signed an executive order aimed at limiting aldermanic prerogative in city department processes.
Aldermanic prerogative, a popular topic during this year’s election, gives aldermen control over licenses, permits and zoning in their wards. For now, Lightfoot is calling for them to be prohibited from having veto power over licenses and permits.
Lightfoot also announced that many agency heads will remain in their positions, notably Eddie Johnson as Chicago Police Department superintendent and Janice Jackson as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.
However, she fired all seven members of the Chicago Board of Education. She said she supports an elected school board, something voters have strongly supported in recent years, and current members’ last day will be June 1.
Citizens will also keep their eye on how Lightfoot negotiates with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which re-elected its CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators) leadership slate on May 17. The CTU’s contract expires on June 30, and Chicago does not need teachers to go on strike—it doesn’t even need the threat of a strike, which always seems to linger.
In a news release on May 23, the CTU asked Lightfoot to participate in an open bargaining session on June 11 and urged her to pass legislation creating an elected school board by May 31.
How refreshing it would be if both issues were settled by the time the 2018-19 academic year ends for Chicago Public Schools on June 20.
The city’s list of problems is long, ranging from the pension crisis to a declining population. Lightfoot, who stressed transparency during her campaign, has taken swift action on several issues.
That’s a trend that needs to continue.