|Lightfoot gets 5th floor office suite; Preckwinkle stays put in her half of city/county municipal building.. Photo by Gregory Tejeda|
SHE WAS SUPPOSED to accept the Cook County Board presidency that she was re-elected to back in November – thereby leaving the mayoral post open for another black person to hold. Chicago’s local government structure would literally have its two highest-ranking positions held by African-Americans.
But that didn’t happen, as Preckwinkle insisted on running for mayor. Which creates the potentially awkward position of Preckwinkle and Lightfoot fighting it out for who is the more prominent black woman in our local politics.
Considering that Preckwinkle also holds the post of Cook County Democratic chairwoman, it means that Toni will be in a position where she could theoretically make life difficult for Lori Lightfoot.
She could decide to use the political party structure to thwart a “Mayor Lightfoot” from being able to accomplish much of anything – if she so wishes. Although admittedly, some people will dismiss her as petty and ignorant if she behaves that way,
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IS THIS WHAT is destined to happen, now that Election Day has come and gone – Lori Lightfoot having managed to come sweeping in and usurping the niche that Preckwinkle had planned on playing this cycle?
That of the “good government” type who engages in high-minded talk about the betterment of our society. Instead of the niche that Lightfoot wound up tagging Preckwinkle with – that of a political hack!
The question essentially becomes whether or not Preckwinkle and Lightfoot can “play nice” with each other and figure out ways in which the two can co-exist within the Chicago political structure for the betterment of our city.
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Or are we destined to have the next three-and-a-half years become a period in which the Preckwinkle/Lightfoot rivalry takes on ugly overtones. Will Preckwinkle decide she needs to show us just how big a political “Boss!” she can be.
HERE’S ACTUALLY THE intriguing question, for those people who want to view this now-complete election cycle as one for the betterment of African-American political interests in Chicago.
Would those interests have been boosted more by having both a black mayor and black county board president? Or would they have been boosted had Preckwinkle prevailed and become the first person since Richard J. Daley himself to serve as both mayor and county Democratic chairman?
Would an all-powerful Preckwinkle have been a nice prize for black political interests? Or was it sexism that wound up making some people think that the two positions were simply too much power to put in the hands of a lone woman. Along with the notion that a “Mayor Preckwinkle” also would have created the chance for a “Cook County Board President John Daley” – a notion some black activists would find abhorrent.
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Keep in mind that back when black political operatives were suggesting that Preckwinkle defer to another black candidate for mayor, the likely favorite was Willie Wilson. Considering how she managed to qualify for the Tuesday run-off while Wilson fell short by merely finishing fourth in the 14-candidate field, it’s not surprising she felt no need to defer to him.
THE RESULT OF all this political scheming is that we now have a mayor-elect who doesn’t come from the current political set-up. Lightfoot has been a corporate attorney and a federal prosecutor, in addition to a one-time member of the Police Accountability Task Force.
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In short, the kind of person who might arouse suspicion from incumbent politicos.
But keep in mind that several people bearing the polical label of “Democratic Socialists” managed to get themselves elected to the City Council. There’s going to be an assortment of aldermen anxious to assert the fact that the city technically has a “weak mayor” system of government.
Lightfoot may get the title of “mayor,” but there will be many individuals anxious to tell her just how little she can do while in office. We’ll have to wait and see whether Preckwinkle will be their leader?