WINTRUST ARENA — Despite her lengthy inaugural address, Mayor Lori Lightfoot touched on a just few of her administration’s key priorities — while her campaign website teemed with white papers crafted during the past year.
In January, Lightfoot signed the “People First Pledge” — an eight-point plan to reform city operations. Among the promises: to run for only one elected office at a time; to ban elected officials, other city employees, and their immediate family members from holding outside jobs that conflict with their city responsibilities; and implementing two-term limits for the mayor and for chairmanships in City Council.
She also pledged to create a non-partisan City Council ward map redistricting process, operate the city’s workers’ compensation program in public view, comply with the Freedom Of Information Act and build a unified Office of Inspector General to oversee city departments, City Council and its committees, sister agencies, and city contractors.
While Lightfoot congratulated her colleagues, Clerk Anna Valencia and Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, for being the first three women of color to simultaneously hold citywide elected office, she has called for both offices to be merged into administrative functions.
The offices’ work is better can be handled by other agencies, Lightfoot said. Both offices are “a relic of the Mayor Richard J. Daley era to give blacks and Latinos a citywide office so they wouldn’t dare challenge him for mayor,” Lightfoot said in February.
She also proposed combining the city and county’s election functions and eliminating the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, a body created in 2012 with much fanfare by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and tasked with helping finance and oversee complex procurement and construction projects.
On the education front, Lightfoot has publicly pledged to back a fully elected school board, “prioritize neighborhood school investments over expansion of competitive programs that require tests to get in, and freeze charter expansion,” according to Chalkbeat Chicago.
Lightfoot’s housing policy called for passage of the Affordable Housing Equity Ordinance, where “if a development with affordable units is proposed in a ward where less than 10 percent of the rental housing stock is affordable, then the proposed development would automatically go through a streamlined process for approval.”
Lightfoot also pledged to amend the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance in significant ways — doubling the number of required units, making sure half are built on-site, and mandating off-site units be built within one mile of the project, while increasing the size of units to accommodate families.
Alongside an audit of the Chicago Housing Authority’s voucher plan, Lightfoot also proposed a graduated real estate transfer tax, rather than the flat tax the city currently collects. Under her proposal, “a transaction for a $250,000 home would result in $1,000 savings, while a transaction for a $1 million home would result in approximately the same payment as under the current structure.”
That graduated real estate transfer tax, would also help “fund public health clinics to provide health care and mental health services,” according to Lightfoot’s public health plan. “In addition, the city will ask each medical school and hospital system in the city to make long term financial pledges to support the creation and operation of free medical clinics.”
One of Lightfoot’s boldest environmental proposals was to work toward 100 percent renewable energy citywide by 2035.
Lightfoot and several aldermen also committed to revamping the city’s recycling program and restoring the city’s Department of Environment, to in part “protect residents from latent harms arising from lead in water, brownfields and poor air quality.”
In addition, Lightfoot suggested adding lead pipe replacement to municipal construction projects and earmarking federal-state loans from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund to accomplish the work.
Lightfoot’s environmental policy also proposed teaming up with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to end the use of combined sewers, which can discharge sewage mixed with stormwater into the Chicago and Calumet rivers.
Lightfoot vowed “to create a transit system where every Chicagoan lives within a 15 minute walk of reliable 24-hour transit service,” and to create a network of bus rapid transit lines “to enable people to travel quickly from one side of the city to the other without having to transfer through the Loop,” according to her proposal.
That expansion, in part, would be paid for with increased fees for ride-hail trips that begin in the Loop, and on Lyft and Uber vehicles that operate within the city but are registered at addresses outside of Chicago, according to her proposal.