Former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot joined the 2019 race for Chicago mayor this week.
Lightfoot is one of nine candidates looking to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who appointed her to lead the police accountability task force after the Laquan McDonald shooting.
Lightfoot kicked off her campaign Thursday, promising more fairness for Chicagoans and a commitment to listen to the needs of the city’s citizens. If elected, Lightfoot would become both the first openly gay mayor and the first African-American female mayor of Chicago.
Morning Shift spoke with Lightfoot about why she wants to be mayor, police accountability, and her plans to keep people in Chicago. Here are some interview highlights. (Listen to interviews with the other mayoral candidates here.)
On why she is running for mayor
Lori Lightfoot: I fundamentally came to believe that the city is going in the wrong direction. I think there are a number of big challenges that are not being addressed. I just lost confidence in this administration’s ability to really speak to the people and the needs that are out there to take on the tough challenges that are absolutely essential to uplifting individuals, families, and neighborhoods.
So, I started looking at ways in which I could better impact and be involved in those issues that I think are important, and I came to the conclusion that I really ought to give looking at a run for mayor very serious consideration.
On police accountability
Lightfoot: I think we have to speak to the realities that we continue to have a big riff between the police department and the communities of color. That’s something that has to be done. [Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson] is doing a lot and he’s really very focused on that, but I think there’s a place for the mayor in that.
There doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency around those issues, which frankly, is baffling. But it adds to the feeling that something’s not right, that the police department isn’t legitimate. While ordinary citizens have to be held accountable for the things that they do, the police department isn’t. I think that’s a real problem. There’s a role for leadership to play here, but for whatever reason, [Mayor Emanuel] hasn’t stepped into that moment.
On how she plans to keep people in the city
Lightfoot: First and foremost, what we’re going to do is get rid of the “us versus them” style of governance. We’re going to be working on listening to people — understanding the challenges but also the opportunities that are in the various neighborhoods across the city.
I intend to be a very visible presence in every neighborhood, not just during the campaign, but when I’m mayor. And I’m going to make sure that my cabinet and other folks that are working on behalf of the city are very focused on making sure that we are listening. Make sure that we are bringing people to the table at the start of a process and not top-down dictate. I think when people see a leader who is listening and understands who they are, is reflecting their values, and projecting and realizing a much more progressive course for the city, we’re going to stem the tide of exodus. And we’re going to bring people back into the city.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview, which was adapted for the web by Bea Aldrich.