Chicago: Did Lori Lightfoot’s Failure to Keep Residents Safe Cost Her Re-Election
Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s Mayor, lost her bid for re-election, raising the question of whether the increase in crime played a role in her defeat. In 2021, Chicago experienced a population loss of over 45,000 people, and crime is considered a significant factor. The city’s high crime rates have caused residents to leave, making Chicago one of the few big cities to suffer population losses, along with New York and San Francisco. Despite a decrease in murders, Chicago and New York both experienced an overall crime jump of over 20% in 2022.
A recent poll of Chicago voters revealed that nearly two-thirds of them feel unsafe in the city. This alarming sentiment reflects the fact that crime is the biggest concern in Chicago. Illinois Policy Institute’s analysis of crime at restaurants along the Red Line, Chicago’s busiest route on the elevated train system, reported four crimes for every five licensed locations near a station. Theft and battery were the most commonly reported crimes.
The Red Line, therefore, serves as a barometer for crime in Chicago, and the restaurants along the line serve to gauge the public’s exposure to crime. This situation is unacceptable and raises questions about Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership and inability to address the city’s crime issues. Her failure to keep Chicagoans safe could have contributed to her loss in the election.
Aside from crime, Chicago’s debt per taxpayer remains the nation’s second-highest, primarily driven by pension debt. This issue, along with the increasing budget deficits, has left the city with limited resources to address its other problems. One significant problem is the Chicago Public Schools, which are spending 55% more to educate 20% fewer students. During negotiations over the current contract between the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS in 2019, the union forced district students to miss 11 instruction days, leaving Chicago taxpayers with an expensive bill. Despite increased spending, educational outcomes in the district have plummeted.
Mayor Lightfoot’s inability to address these challenges adequately could have cost her the election. Fixing these issues requires a leader who can address the pension debt, budget deficits, and educational outcomes while also ensuring Chicago’s safety. The next Mayor must understand that crime drives out residents and ensure that the city’s residents feel safe. They must prioritize the safety and well-being of their constituents over politics and personal agendas. It is time for a leader who can address Chicago’s problems and work towards a safer, better future for the city and its people.