SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Incoming Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot took her message to Springfield Wednesday and said the state must work with Chicago on the big challenges that lie ahead.
Lightfoot arrived at the state capitol for meetings with the governor and legislative leaders and made a speech at the house chamber.
Lightfoot came to the Illinois State House with a clear objective —to announce a new day in Chicago politics, and a willingness to work with state lawmakers to deal with the city’s most pressing issues including violence, finances and schools.
“My hope is that today marks the beginning of a strong and productive working relationship. with members of this chamber,” she said.
She pledged to have open communication with state lawmakers and work in an open and transparent way.
During her mayoral campaign, she campaigned against the Chicago political machine. So sitting next to House Speaker Mike Madigan, who is perhaps more emblematic of machine-style politics than anyone in the state, raised questions about how the two power players will work together.
“Look, the speaker occupies an important space in state government,” she said. “I look forward and I have no question that we’re going to have a good productive working relationship. We’re not going to be aligned on every issue, but he is an important person. I want to make sure we have an open line of communication.”
Lightfoot said she also had a productive afternoon meeting with Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“The State of Illinois’ fate has a lot to do with the future of Chicago and we know that. I look forward to a governor who recognizes that when the state supports Chicago – particularly economically — it inures to the benefit of the entire state,” she said.
After the speech, lawmakers lined up to meet the Chicago’s history making mayor-elect. Political observers kept a close eye on one meeting in particular — with Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago), who had a public confrontation with Lightfoot during the campaign — a moment that Lightfoot credited as a turning point.
“I don’t know if there’s a hatchet to bury,” she said. “I think he understood who I am and that he ought to be respectful of me as a woman and a person, and I’m sure we won’t have a repeat of the incident that happened previously.
Lightfoot says today’s visit to the capitol was a chance to meet lawmakers, and to stress the importance of working with the state’s most populous city.
Of course, the 200-year rivalry between the City of Chicago and the rest of the state was a topic. A handful of state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would split Chicago from the rest of the state. Lightfoot responded to that proposal with two words: Good luck.
On Thursday, Lightfoot is expected to meet with Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady.
She takes office next month, replacing Mayor Rahm Emanuel who decided not to seek re-election.