Exit interview: Mayor Lori Lightfoot on her campaign, gun violence, and more

Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Mayor Lori Lightfoot sat down with WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore for an exclusive interview — her last as mayor. Photo credit Craig Dellimore

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot talked enthusiastically about how her administration reacted to the coronavirus pandemic. She called Public Health Director Allison Arwady a hero, and she noted that her Invest South/West Initiative has brought unprecedented development to some of the city’s most challenged neighborhoods.

Lightfoot, though, didn’t deny that public safety was the dominant issue in the Chicago mayoral race — and clearly a reason she lost.

“I think the difference for us is, frankly, the 24-hour news cycle and the sensationalization of every issue didn’t help,” Lightfoot said. “The fact that we made progress, meaningful progress, in homicide shootings and carjackings over the course of last year and that most residents in the city don’t know it because that wasn’t something that the media reported.”

The outgoing mayor added that when the city started to make progress, many in the media “changed the goalposts.”

Some media outlets, including this one, did report the progress. But Lightfoot admitted that people in the neighborhoods where gunfire can be heard nightly — and people downtown seeing and hearing about attacks and carjackings — aren’t prone to believe the numbers.

Lightfoot agreed that there are too many gun-wielding offenders on the streets. It's why she’s often complained that, when police arrest suspects, too often they aren’t prosecuted or courts free them pending trial.

“Of course we need to continue to hold violent, dangerous and habitual offenders accountable, which is why I pushed so hard on pre-trial detention, because I think that was absolutely necessary,” Lightfoot said. “I’m not apologetic about that. That was what was needed to keep people safe, and it’s still needed.”

She said policing alone, though, isn’t the solution.

“We also have to look at the root causes,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve invested a significant amount of resources all across the spectrum, and particularly focused on the 15 communities that have historically led 50% or more of our violence.”

That’s a long-term issue — one the new mayor will have to confront, as well.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is the guest on WBBM’s “At Issue” program, which airs Sunday night at 9:30. The full interview can also be heard above.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Craig Dellimore