On ‘a new day for all Chicago,’ Lightfoot pledges to work with ‘multiple sides’ on OPC

With the arms of the Rev. Janette Wilson, Esq., National Director of PUSH Excel, on their shoulders, Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President join hands with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. as the Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church delivers the benediction following the “Unity” press conference at Rainbow PUSH last Wednesday. (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

Staff writer

Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle met in a show of unity last Wednesday at the Rainbow/PUSH headquarters in Kenwood, convened by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who marked the victor’s arrival by chanting her campaign slogan again and again: “Bring in the light!”

Asked if she would bring the Obama Presidential Center to Jackson Park, Lightfoot said that “a lot of ink that’s been spilled looking at that issue” and that she looked forward “to meeting with both sides, or multiple sides, to sit down and understand the nuances that have not been reported in the media.

“But we should be grateful that the presidential center is coming here, but we need to make sure that we give justice to people in those communities. We can’t have development mean displacement.”

She took a follow-up question about whether “both sides” referred to the parties in Protect Our Parks v. Chicago Park District, the federal lawsuit seeking to prevent construction of the OPC in public parkland: “I think there are a lot of people who are stakeholders — people who haven’t spoken up, people who are living in those communities and want to make sure that they’re not going to be displaced by development.

“We have to make sure that we are looking to and taking care of those folks as well.”

Lightfoot began by praising Preckwinkle, saying she deserves respect and has her personal commitment to “advance a progressive agenda, not only here in the city and county, but also in Springfield, including an elected, representative school board and implementing a fair tax.”

“These are the reforms that will transform the lives of people who look like us; transform the lives of working families like the one I grew up in,” the mayor-elect said. “Today is April 3: a new day for all Chicago.”

When asked how to bring together different factions in the city, Lightfoot said that, while some disagreements may arise, “if we open up government, put people first and come together in the spirit of cooperation, we’re going to go a long way in bringing folks together.”

She said she would “take full advantage” of the mandate she gained from her landslide victory; she said she would deliver, as “honeymoons come and go.” Asked why Chicago had taken so long to elect a Black woman mayor, Lightfoot said she could “not look into a crystal ball. All I can do is be here now. Here I am, and now we move forward.”

Preckwinkle spoke before Lightfoot and offered her support after a contentious campaign.

“I think it’s worth noting that we outlined some of the same challenges, particularly investments in our neighborhoods, many of which have struggled for decades with disinvestment and neglect,” she said, adding that they were both committed to working on public education and police–community relations.

“And I pledge to work with her on addressing all those challenges while I continue the work of the county, providing access to quality healthcare for our residents and, of course, working on criminal justice reform.”