Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot is in Washington, D.C., this week on a trip that could set the tone for the future of Chicago’s relationship with the Trump administration.
On Tuesday, she met with Ivanka Trump — the president’s daughter and adviser — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Lightfoot plans to meet with other national leaders Wednesday and Thursday.
The mayor-elect talked to WBEZ Wednesday morning about her trip to the nation’s capital. Here’s an edited version of her comments.
On what she discussed with Ivanka Trump
Lori Lightfoot: I was impressed that she knows a lot of details about what’s happening on the ground in Chicago, around violence reduction efforts as well as workforce development. So that was the kind of substance of the conversation that we had in looking for opportunities that the federal government can come and serve some of the on-the-ground efforts that are already ongoing in Chicago, and then looking at ways in which we can focus development particularly to opportunity zones.
Wonderful mtg Chicago Mayor-elect Lightfoot, the 1st African-American woman & 1st openly gay person to lead the city.— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 7, 2019
Great discussion on topics including economic revitalization, workforce dev, vocational edu, CJR reform & crime prevention.
I look forward to working together. pic.twitter.com/EOcuVIkuoy
On President Trump’s rhetoric about gun violence in Chicago
Lightfoot: I think we have to change that narrative, and certainly in my conversations with the president — right after the election, he was kind enough to call to congratulate me — we talked about challenges, but I also made sure that I will continue to be a champion for what’s going well in Chicago.
Look, there’s no question that we have a challenge with gun violence. But there’s a lot more nuanced parts of that narrative, and that’s the part that I think that we have to make sure that we emphasize along with all the great things that are going on in Chicago, particularly in our neighborhoods.
On how she wants to get more federal resources from the administration without compromising her values
Lightfoot: That was part of the conversation that I had yesterday with Ivanka Trump. I think there are ways in which we can have a productive working relationship with the administration around things where we share the vision for the need to change the narrative in Chicago around workforce development, around violence intervention, around education opportunities. I think there’s things in which we will be able to continue the conversation.
And, then, more broadly, I think it’s important for me to demonstrate to the national leadership that Chicago has to be part of the solution for a lot of broader issues that challenge the country. And I feel confident that they understand all that … certainly Speaker Pelosi was incredibly generous in her comments, and I think there’ll be ways that we can work together.
For example, we need to get an infrastructure bill. That’s important not only at the state level but also at [the] federal level and that, historically, has been a bipartisan effort I’m hopeful that we can make progress on, and I’ll certainly do my part to move that along.
It’s an honor to welcome Chicago Mayor-elect Lightfoot to the U.S. Capitol today for an engaging conversation on issues impacting Chicagoans and communities across the country. pic.twitter.com/vmC1k0qj3u— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) May 7, 2019
On why she’s not meeting with President Trump during this trip
Lightfoot: This was the first initial trip. I’m meeting with members of this administration and, obviously, key among them his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. So, you know what, we’ll see how that conversation develops.
On what she hopes to get out of meetings with Pelosi, the head of the House Transportation Committee, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus
Lightfoot: Well, some of it obviously is part introduction because many of these folks have been involved in Chicago but I’ve not met them personally. I want to make sure that I’m forming those kinds of relationships because partnership is all the more easy if you can look people in the eye and they know who you are, and you understand what their mission is. So those are all important. But also I want to bring the word to the Hill about the needs that we have in the city of Chicago, particularly around roads and bridges and other infrastructure, as well as mass transit.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.