Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot failed to qualify for the city’s mayoral runoff, spelling the end of her term atop the city’s politics.

Lightfoot served a historic term as Chicago’s first black woman to hold the seat. She was also the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Paul Vallas, a former CEO of Chicago schools, and Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, advanced to the April 4 runoff election.

Vallas and Johnson ran as Democrats, but the two candidates remain ideologically opposed on many issues. Vallas ran as a moderate with a heavy emphasis on law and order. Johnson ran on a progressive platform, promising higher taxes on billionaires and police reform.


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Lightfoot, the first Chicago mayor to lose a re-election bid since 1983, conceded on Tuesday night. In her speech, she said, “obviously, we didn’t win the election today, but I stand here with my head held high.”

“You will not be defined by how you fall. You will be defined by how hard you work and how much you do for other people,” she added.

Lightfoot’s tenure as mayor was marred by consistent controversy, as the mayor was painted as an enemy of the political right. She also frequently quarreled with institutional powers in Chicago, such as the teacher’s union, the police and local media. Her job approval ratings had tanked to around 20 percent in recent months.

In his victory speech, Vallas thanked the outgoing mayor before returning to the law and order rhetoric he had repeated in his campaign.

“Public safety is the fundamental right of every American. It is a civil right, and it is the principle responsibility of the government. We will have a safe Chicago. We will make Chicago the safest city in America,” he said.

Johnson also returned to his standard rhetoric in his speech, talking about a realignment of Chicago’s financial responsibilities.

“Tonight is about building a Chicago that truly invests in our people. The most radical thing we can do as a city is to love the people of Chicago. Loving people and investing in people — that is the way my father raised me. The finances of this city belong to the people of the city. So, we’re going to invest in the people of the city.”

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