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Chicago to get first black female mayor

ELECTION: Toni Preckwinkle is one of two women who could be elected as Chicago's first black female mayor

A BLACK woman is set to become Chicago mayor for the first time.

Two black female candidates have outrun their competition to face off for the top political job in the third largest city in the US.

Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle both defeated 12 other candidates to to take the top spots in the race for the role on Tuesday.

Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor and Preckwinkle, a Cook County board president, will face one another in head-to-head election on April 2.

On Tuesday, Lightfoot received 90,000 votes (17.5 per cent) of the vote and Preckwinkle’s vote count was 82,000 (16 per cent) of the vote.

Lightfoot, a former chair of the police accountability taskforce, has made reform of the Chicago Police Department a priority of her campaign.

She has pledged to address gun violence as a public health crisis, invest in community resources including violence prevention programmes and to lead a proactive strategy with federal, state, county and city officials to remove illegal firearms from the city’s streets.

Activists have accused the city's police of civil rights abuses and the Chicago Police have routinely violated civil rights of people in the city, the US Justice Department has found.

Speaking after the results were announced, Lightfoot said: “All of you here tonight stood with us when so many others said this day could never happen

She added: “That the field was too crowded, that there was no path for a new reformer without huge donors amidst a pack of establishment figures. That I had some good ideas, but just couldn’t win. And it’s true that it’s not every day that a little Black girl in a low-income family in an old steel town grows up to make the runoff election for mayor of the third-largest city in the country.”

If elected, Lightfoot would also be the city’s first openly gay mayor.

In a statement released in January, she said: “I’m running for mayor to build a Chicago City government that represents and defends every person, no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Preckwinkle, who worked as a teacher prior to entering politics, also campaigned on police reform and reducing crime in the city which has been plagued by violence.

“I am running because everyone must feel safe in their communities. That means fighting to get illegal guns off our streets and working to build a more effective, accountable police force that serves and protects all our communities. It means recognising that the safety of our communities is not achieved through policing alone.

"We must stop relying solely on police officers to serve as everything from social workers to health care providers and address the underlying public health factors that influence the decisions of so many,” she said in a statement.

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