Occupation: Mayor of Chicago
During the onset of the coronavirus crisis, Lightfoot may not have made the big decisions — Governor J.B. Pritzker closed the schools and gave the stay-at-home order — but she took the lead in easing Chicagoans’ financial suffering, establishing a $100 million Small Business Resiliency Loan fund and announcing limits on ticketing, towing, and impounding cars.
By then the new mayor had already built some considerable cred at City Hall. At her very first council meeting, in May 2019, she memorably put Chicago’s longest-serving alderman in his place. As Ed Burke tried to launch into one of his famously long-winded speeches, she scolded him as if he were a misbehaving pupil: “I will call you when I’m ready to hear from you.” Seven months later, Lightfoot brought the hammer down on Eddie Johnson when the police superintendent was found sleeping in his car after a night of drinks at Ceres Café. She promptly fired him and appointed former Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck, whom she admires, as interim chief.
The message is clear: It’s Lightfoot’s City Hall. And while the mayor, who ran on an anticorruption platform, has had only limited success in fulfilling her promise to end aldermanic prerogative, she’s already effected real change in other areas, moving the city away from what she’s called a “regressive system” of generating revenue through fines and fees that are disproportionately extracted from low-income Chicagoans. She’s also lowered water and sewer rates for poor residents, ended water shutoffs, and given motorists more time to pay their boot fees. All of which seems to send another clear message: If Rahm Emanuel was Mayor 1 Percent, Lightfoot wants to be Mayor 100 Percent.