CHICAGO — Facing criticism from aldermen who feel left out of recent City Hall decisions, Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed Monday to be a better collaborator with those she disagrees with in the months ahead.
Lightfoot’s comments came during a budget address where the mayor announced a nearly $800 million budget shortfall for this year — and a budget gap that could reach $1.2 billion in 2021, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As the city struggles to get its outbreak under control, Lightfoot said Chicagoans need to work together to rebuild the economy — and their faith in fellow Chicagoans.
“We are losing our ability to see each other’s perspective,” Lightfoot said. “Too many of us ascribe the worst motives to anyone who does not agree 100 percent with our beliefs. We need to change the tone of our discourse.”
While Lightfoot was referring to the general toxicity of public discourse recently, she also took a moment to reflect on her own struggles as the city faced the pandemic and a civil rights movement at the same time.
“… 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. “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.”
Earlier this month, several aldermen representing neighborhoods across the city, from Andersonville to Roseland, said Lightfoot hasn’t consulted them before making decisions impacting residents of their wards. Efforts to question her choices or get more involved have been met with hostility, the aldermen said.
“We get the info about these decisions in the ninth inning and then are forced to respond very quickly, often with little info. That doesn’t work for me on the North Side,” said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), a freshman alderman and member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Lightfoot said as Chicago faces huge issues — a budget crisis, high violent crime and an ongoing pandemic among them — working together is the only way we as a city will get through this difficult moment.
“People will write books about 2020, and some of the chapters will not be pretty. But through it all, the greatness of our people and this magnificent city has come shining through,” she said. “It is never too late for us to do more to listen, to work together and — at least here in Chicago — strive toward that more perfect union.”
Mina Bloom’s reporting contributed to this story.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.