What if we’re stuck with Lori Lightfoot?
Not just for another year, but for another term. Would it really be so bad?
Let’s think this through.
Like you, I was hoping one of the usual suspects — Paul Vallas, Mike Quigley — would come charging into the mayor’s race, someone significant we could get excited about. And no, Willie Wilson tossing away fistfuls of cash doesn’t count.
But each potential savior took a long look at our churning municipal disaster, then fled.
Another kick to prostrate Chicago: a city so broken nobody even wants to run it.
Except Lightfoot, though yes, she goes about the task with the determined cringe of a cat owner squeegeeing up a particularly voluminous pool from a hardwood floor.
Can you blame her? Why would anybody want to be mayor of Chicago? It’s an impossible job.
Do you remember a successful, popular mayor? Me neither.
Do those two traits even go together? Effectiveness and popularity seem inverse qualities. Jane Byrne was a hot mess with no idea what she was doing. Yet Chicagoans were fond of her ... why? Personal style. Panache.
That’s what makes a mayor beloved. People embraced Harold Washington whether he got anything done or not. Richard J. Daley was so hated we forget how loved he was by the bungalow belt, who kept pictures of him in their living rooms, like he was the pope. All they ask is that the mayor reflect their own person. Then they can extend the blanket approval they give themselves.
Do Chicagoans have to like their mayor? Not really. Rahm Emanuel was an abrasive jerk. But he created the Riverwalk, a cool addition to downtown. Many folks didn’t particularly like Richie Daley, an entitled princeling brought up behind the high walls of his Bridgeport purdah. He hurt Chicago, giving away the parking meters, the Skyway and bus stops in ludicrously bad deals.
But the Bean! And Millennium Park! All is forgiven.
That’s what Lightfoot needs. I reached out to her office to inquire what kind of glittering bauble the mayor plans to bestow upon the city in gratitude for her second term. The answer filtered back — it isn’t like she’d talk to me — to the effect that she looks with pride at the progress she’s made in each of Chicago’s 77 distinct communities.
See? That’s so Lori, I glanced over my shoulder, expecting a laugh track, the canned “Oh Lori!” groan.
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