(The Center Square) – The primary election closes in Chicago Tuesday night, and recent polling shows incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s time in office could soon be coming to an end.
Lightfoot was elected to be Chicago’s first LGBTQ mayor and 56th overall in 2019. However, recent polling by Fox 32 Chicago shows Lightfoot in third place behind former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. There are six other candidates on the ballot. If no single candidate wins a majority in Tuesday primary, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff in April.
Since Lightfoot has been in office, the city has dealt with a global pandemic, public safety issues and clashes with the Chicago Teachers Union.
In October, as candidates for mayor laid out their plans for public safety, Lightfoot told the public that they were safe in the city.
“We work hard every single day to make sure people feel safe because they are safe,” Lightfoot said. “That is why year over year we are down 17% in homicides, 19% in shootings, and we continue to look for ways in which we can improve.”
Chicago Police statistics show that violent crime is 63% higher than in 2022 and 107% greater than in 2021.
Lightfoot said some reports of rampant crime in the city are fabricated.
“Everything that you read on news blogs is not truthful,” Lightfoot said. “I have seen things on there many times that have no bearing on reality.”
Residents in Chicago also saw higher fines on their roadways under Lightfoot.
In 2021, Lightfoot lowered the threshold on when motorists would be assessed fines from automatic speed cameras to just 6 mph above the speed limit.
Chicago has 160-speed cameras in total, 27 of those cameras each generated more than $1 million from city drivers during the year, and 10 of those cameras generated more than $2 million.
Lightfoot, during her tenure, dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in mask mandates, vaccination mandates and the closing of in-person businesses.
In December 2021, Lightfoot announced that anyone five years of age or older would be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to dine indoors, visit gyms or go to entertainment venues where food or drink are served.
A year later, Lightfoot said they could soon return to masking.
“If and when Chicago and Cook County reach the high level, we will issue a mask advisory,” Lightfoot announced. “Let me just underscore that, a mask advisory.”
The pandemic also led to clashes with the Chicago Teachers Union as Lightfoot pushed students to return to the classroom while many teachers said they felt unsafe.
In January 2022, after several teachers did not show up to work for remote learning, Lightfoot called the move illegal.
“What we need to be focused on is working together. What I’d love to see CTU do is not force an illegal work stoppage,” Lightfoot said. “What I’d love to see them do is work hand-in-glove with us to get kids and their families vaccinated.”
Lightfoot earlier this year came under fire for trying to use the Chicago Public School students to help with her campaign for mayor.
In an email obtained by WTTW, Lightfoot’s campaign offered students extra credit if they chose to help her campaign.
“As the race heats up, we’re looking to enrich our office through what we call our externship program. Could you please share this opportunity with your students?” the Lightfoot campaign email reads. “Lightfoot for Chicago is seeking resumes from any volunteer interested in campaign politics and eager to gain experience in the field.”
Her opponents criticized the emails.
“This is outrageous, desperate, & downright unethical,” Johnson said on his Twitter account. “Mayor Lightfoot has failed our students. Now she’s exploiting young people for political gain. Chicago needs a leader who’s focused on fully funding our public schools, not someone blatantly abusing the power of her office.”
Vallas released a statement that said the people of Chicago deserve answers related to Lightfoot’s emails.
“While I believe that an independent joint investigation by the city and CPS Inspectors General is the best way to get to the bottom of this scandal, Chicago voters deserve to hear answers to these questions and more directly from Mayor Lightfoot herself right now,” said Vallas.
The next Chicago mayor will be inaugurated in May.
Polls open at 6 a.m. in Chicago and close at 7 p.m.