Aisha N. Davis, Esq., Manager of Policy & Advocacy
On Tuesday, Chicagoans will return to the polls to cast votes for the mayoral runoff election. This notable day will also select aldermen for 15 wards. For many reasons, this election is important, but one very noticeable thing has set it apart – regardless of the election results, Chicago’s next mayor will be a Black woman, a historical first.
Forty years ago, Chicago elected its first woman mayor – Jane Byrne, and immediately after, elected its first Black mayor – Harold Washington. Those two elections began to disrupt the historically homogenous mayoral office, but outside of them, every other person elected has been a white man. This year, with either Toni Preckwinkle or Lori Lightfoot, we will usher in a groundbreaking mayor, and if Lori Lightfoot is elected, Chicago will also have its first openly queer mayor.
This moment comes at a time where many of us are aware of how much representation matters – especially in our elected officials. This upcoming election is powerful and symbolic for Chicago. No community is a monolith – indeed, Lightfoot and Preckwinkle have come down on different sides of many issues – so electing a Black woman does not necessarily mean that we know what her tenure will be like. However, there is no denying that electing a Black woman for the first time in 200 years matters. Therefore, on Tuesday evening, when the voting is done, we will have taken a step forward in proving that leadership of our vibrant city does not have to look a certain way.
While both Democrats, Preckwinkle and Lightfoot have demonstrated different views on many issues. As an Illinois non-profit Howard Brown does not endorse any candidates. You can find out more information about each candidate on their respective websites here and here.
If you are still undecided, their positions on many issues have been documented over the course of this election season. Of the many options for voting guides, here are a few from specific interest areas: the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chalkbeat (on education), and the ACLU of IL. If you want more general information about the candidates, check out Chicago Magazine’s piece about the candidates.
If you are unsure where your polling place is, you can find out through the Chicago Board of Elections. And, if you aren’t already registered to vote, you can do so up through Election Day – including at your polling place when you go vote!
At Howard Brown, we encourage our patients, staff, and community at large to exercise their right to vote and engage with the political process both during and outside of election seasons. It is our belief that our work for comprehensive, competent, and compassionate healthcare matters not only in our clinics, but also in our communities. As such, we will continue to advocate for political engagement that leads to better health outcomes and resources for all Chicagoans.