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Former Federal Prosecutor Lori Lightfoot Sworn In As Chicago's Mayor


Chicago's mayors usually rise from the ranks of political insiders - not anymore.


LORI LIGHTFOOT: As I stand here today, I can't help but think about where I came from.

CORNISH: Lori Lightfoot was sworn in today as Chicago's 56th mayor. The former federal prosecutor is pledging to shake up City Hall. From member station WBEZ in Chicago, Claudia Morell reports.

CLAUDIA MORELL, BYLINE: Lightfoot made history in Chicago today - not only because she's the first black, openly gay female mayor but because she's the opposite of the old Chicago political adage. Lightfoot is a nobody nobody sent who managed to capture the most powerful seat in Chicago. Lightfoot took the oath of office this morning before thousands of her supporters.

Lori Lightfoot focused heavily on issues of equity, that it isn't OK that parts of Chicago are thriving while the rest suffers. It's an issue that's dogged many mayors before Lightfoot. Critics say her predecessor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, focused on improving downtown, often at the expense of the city's neighborhoods. But the biggest applause line during Lightfoot's speech today was an issue she campaigned heavily on - cleaning up City Hall.


LIGHTFOOT: Putting Chicago government and integrity in the same sentence sometimes may seem a little strange.

MORELL: In a city where patronage prompted federal oversight of hiring at City Hall for decades and where some aldermen were re-elected to their seats despite being under the watch of federal investigators...


LIGHTFOOT: Friends, that's going to change because it's got to change. For years they've said Chicago ain't ready for reform. Well, get ready because reform is here.

MORELL: After the speech, Audrey Davis (ph), an older black woman, was standing at the entryway to the arena. She was holding a self-made sign that read, bring in the light, a play on one of Lightfoot's campaign slogans.

AUDREY DAVIS: She was very inspirational and aspirational. She's going to be more inclusive. And I think that's important.

MORELL: Shortly after the inaugural ceremony, Lightfoot headed over to City Hall to sign her first executive order. It will prevent city councilmembers from having sole control over permitting and real estate development in their districts. That's something that critics say has fueled corruption that has plagued City Hall for decades. For NPR News, I'm Claudia Morell in Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Morell
Claudia Morell is a city political reporter for WBEZ.