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Lightfoot vows to do more to change strident tone of political discourse

“When I say, ‘we,’ that includes me as well. ... I need to push myself harder to work with people with whom I do not agree and who do not agree with me,” Lightfoot said in a rare moment of self-criticism and reflection.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has feuded with President Trump, the local police union president and some aldermen. But she wants to do better and listening to people she disagrees with, she said Monday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has feuded with President Trump, the local police union president and some aldermen. But she wants to do better and listening to people she disagrees with, she said Monday.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday acknowledged the role she has played in widening Chicago’s political divide and vowed to do her part to, as she put it, “change the tone of our discourse.”

Lightfoot famously told President Trump she had two words for him — a phrase that “begins with an F and ends with You.” She similarly unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) when Lopez accused her administration of being caught flat-footed by the first round of looting sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

She’s been embroiled in a cold war with the Fraternal Order of Police that turned into a deep freeze when the outspoken John Catanzara was elected its president.

In their most recent battle, Lightfoot sent Catanzara a series of text messages calling him a “cartoon character” a “clown” and a “total fraud” after he wrote a letter to President Trump asking for federal help to stop the violence in Chicago.

As she wrapped up a Monday speech devoted almost exclusively to city finances, Lightfoot looked her thin-skinned self squarely in the mirror and vowed to do better.

“The thing that has me most concerned is, increasingly, we seem to have lost the ability to talk to each other, and our ability to work together toward common goals is becoming increasingly limited,” she said.

“The discussion has moved from, ‘How can we work together?’ to, ‘How can we score points?’ We are losing the ability to see other peoples’ perspectives. Too many of us ascribe the worst motives to anyone who does not agree with 100 percent of our beliefs.”

Lightfoot said it’s time to “change the tone of our discourse” and there is “no better place to start” than the budget process.

“When I say, ‘we,’ that includes me as well. … I need to push myself harder to work with people with whom I do not agree and who do not agree with me,” she said in a rare moment of self-criticism and reflection.

“If you are focused on creating a better tomorrow for all of our residents, then I will be even more intentional in finding common ground with you. Reach out to me and I will do the same.”

Lightfoot said she’s proud of what she has accomplished during her first year in office — but that there is more that she must do “as a person who loves this city and its people, as a neighbor, a friend and a mom.”

“I want my daughter to see her mom as a person of strength and great character, a person who is a fearless advocate for those who were locked out from access to power and resources for far too long. A person of empathy and with an open mind and compassionate heart,” she said.

“While I have worked hard to model the behavior I want our young people to emulate, I know that I must do more. I hope that all people of goodwill in this city will join me.”