Polls have closed in Chicago's Mayoral elections, in which a former federal prosecutor who has never held elected office was fighting against a powerful official whose political career spans decades ̵
The race to succeed mayor Rahm Emanuel, who opted not to run for re-election, comes days after Chicago State Prosecutors stunned the nation by opting to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of falsifying a hate-crime attack that involved supporters of President Trump. Prosecutors have said they did not intend to sue Smollett, but the actor publicly claimed exoneration – leading comedians to mock him, and police unions and the mayor's office to cry foul
Lori Lightfoot, 56, who served as an assistant US attorney before entering private practice, emerged as the surprising leader in the first round of voting in February when 14 candidates were on the ballot. She was matched up against Toni Preckwinkle, a former schoolteacher who served on Chicago City Council for 19 years before becoming Cook County Board President in 2011.
Chicago will become the largest US city to choose a black woman as a mayor. The winner will join seven other black women currently serving as mayors in major U.S.
Lightfoot, who is openly gay, has seized on the outrage over the deadly shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald – at the hands of White Officer Jason Van Dyke – to launch her campaign. That was even before Emanuel announced that he would not seek a third term amid criticism for initially resisting calls to release the video of the shooting
] "I'm not a person who decided I would climb the ladder of a corrupt political party," Lightfoot said during a debate last month. "This is a not-so-veiled reference to Preckwinkle, who also leads the county's Democratic Party and has countered that her opponent was lacking
"This is not an entry-level job," Preckwinkle said repeatedly during the campaign. "
Joyce Ross, a 64-year-old certified nursing assistant who lives on, is a change maker, transforming institutions and communities. the West Side, she said she cast her voteot Tuesday for Lightfoot.
DRIVE-BY SHOOTING SULLIES MOOD IN CHICAGO, AFTER RELATIVELY GOOD MONTH OF ONLY 20 HOMICIDES
Ross said that she believed Lightfoot would be better able to clean up the police department and curb the city's violence. ] In addition, she said she was bothered by Preckwinkle's association with longtime Alderman Ed Burke, who was blamed earlier this year on charges he tried to shake down a restaurant owner who wanted to build in his ward
"My momma always said "Truly Gannon, a 39-year-old dietician and mother of four, said she was not bothered by stories that portrayed Preckwinkle as an insider aligned with questionable politicians like Burke.
"I'm not sure Lightfoot would be able to handle the job like Preckwinkle," she said.
The campaign between the two women got off to a contentious start, with Preckwinkle's advertising focusing on Lightfoot's work as a partner at Mayer Brown, one of the nation's largest law firms, and marking her as a "rich corporate lawyer."
Preckwinkle also tried to cast Lightfoot as an insider for working in police oversight posts under Emanuel and police oversight, procurement and emergency communications posts under the former Mayor Richard M. Daley
In one ad, Preckwinkle criticized Lightfoot's oversight of emergency communications in 2004 when a fire killed four children. A judge ordered Lightfoot to preserve 911 tapes after questions were raised about how the emergency call was handled. The ad noted that some of the tapes were destroyed, prompting the judge to rebuke Lightfoot.
WATCH: DUELING RALLIES ABOUT SMOLLETT ENGULF CHICAGO
The Witch: DUELING RALLIES ABOUT SMOLLETT ENGULF CHICAGO
LightPoker also responded by scolding her opponent for being negative while also airing ads pointing out Preckwinkle's connection to powerful local Democrats, including one under federal indictment
Preckwinkle spent much of her time during her campaign answering her ties to Chicago's political establishment. She and her supporters asserted her rise to the Democratic Party leadership did not hinder her ability to oppose policies promoted by the ever-powerful mayors of the city
"My whole career has been about change, and change is action and results, not just words , "said Preckwinkle, who said her experience made her better positioned to lead a city with financial problems and poor neighborhoods hit by gun violence
Despite the barbs on the campaign trail, the two advanced similar ideas to boost the city's finances.
Both candidates expressed support for a casino in Chicago and for changing the state's tax system to a graduated tax,
Preckwinkle said that while downtown development should remain a priority, it should not be at the cost of neighborhood growth. (19659005) Click to Enlarge FOX NEWS APP
Lightfoot said that as a mayor, she would focus on investing in neighborhoods on the West and South Sides and bring transparency and accountability to City Hall. She added she also wanted to end City Hall corruption and restore people's faith in government
"The machine has been in decline for a while, but it still has a grip on certain things," Lightfoot said. "
Andrew O'Reilly and The Associated Press
" This is our chance to send it to its grave, once and for all. "