EDITORIAL: Your vote matters more than ever in this historic Chicago election

SHARE EDITORIAL: Your vote matters more than ever in this historic Chicago election

Mayoral candidates Lori Lightfoot, left, and Toni Preckwinkle, right. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

If polls were elections, Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States.

On the morning before the 2016 presidential election, Clinton held a modest lead over Donald Trump in almost every poll.

But polls, of course, don’t win elections. Voters do. So MAGA hats off to President Trump!


Now the polls say Lori Lightfoot will be the next mayor of Chicago. Every major poll shows Lightfoot not just winning on Tuesday, but trouncing Toni Preckwinkle.

But if you favor Lightfoot, take nothing for granted.


And if you favor Preckwinkle, don’t lose faith.


Because, as Clinton would tell you, nothing is won or lost until the votes are cast.

By voting, you also are punching your ticket for the right to grouse when the next mayor, whether Lightfoot or Preckwinkle, lets you down.

(All mayors let us down. It’s an impossible job. But that’s an editorial for another day.)

In the first round of this mayoral election, on Feb. 26, the turnout was a pathetic 35.3 percent of registered voters, with an especially low turnout among young voters. Of all the votes cast, only 3.5 percent were by people younger than 25.

That wasn’t quite an historic low for Chicago, but it was hard to understand in a mayoral election that, at that point, was about as wide open an election as the city has seen. With 14 first-round candidates and no single Democratic Party favorite, anything could happen and anything did.

Lightfoot, who was looking like an also-ran just weeks earlier, won the most votes.

We were glad Lightfoot came out on top, having endorsed her, but that first round could have gone several very different ways had more Chicagoans voted. In a city with more than 1.6 million registered voters, Lightfoot beat Preckwinkle by just 8,280 votes, and Preckwinkle beat Bill Daley by just 7,051 votes.

The bigger the turnout on Tuesday, the more the final result will reflect the will of Chicago.

Also on the line in this election is the fundamental culture of the Chicago City Council.

A wave of young and left-leaning challengers, their candidacies fueled by the public’s growing disgust with the corruption of the local Democratic Party, bumped off two establishment incumbents in the first round, and could pick up more seats on Tuesday. They will not be bound by the Council’s conventions or beholden to the next mayor.

The race, for example, between incumbent Ald. Deborah Mell (33rd), whom we endorse, and challenger Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez could be decided by a couple of hundred votes — or fewer.

For Chicago, this is truly a historic election. An African-American woman will be elected mayor. A weak-kneed City Council might finally show a little moxie.

If you have not yet voted, help make history — and vote now.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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