Tuesday November 12, 2019
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Chicago Appoints its First Black Woman Mayor

Lightfoot, who will also become the first openly gay mayor of the third-largest U.S. city, appealed to voters who are tired of politics as usual

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Lori Lightfoot, a political newcomer, was on track to be elected the first black female mayor of Chicago. VOA

Lori Lightfoot, a political newcomer, was on track to be elected the first black female mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, with a massive lead over opponent Toni Preckwinkle in a city struggling with crime and poor finances.

With more than half of precincts counted, former president of independent civilian body the Chicago Police Board, Lightfoot, 56, had 74 percent of votes while Preckwinkle, 72, a longtime local politician had 26 percent in a runoff to become Chicago’s 56th mayor.

Lightfoot, who will also become the first openly gay mayor of the third-largest U.S. city, appealed to voters who are tired of politics as usual. She has never held political office, while Preckwinkle was a city councilwoman for almost 20 years before becoming Cook County board president in 2010.

“I voted for Lori Lightfoot … I think the other one, Preckwinkle, is in politics too long. You know, too much of a machine,” said John Reyes, 71, speaking outside a polling place in the Albany Park neighborhood.

The runoff between two African-American women was a rarity in the United States, where only 6 percent of mayors in the 200 U.S. largest cities are women of color, according to the Reflective Democracy Campaign.

Lightfoot and Preckwinkle earned spots on the ballot after they garnered the most votes among 14 candidates in a February election. The winner will replace Rahm Emanuel, who is not seeking a third term.

“Clearly, Lori offers us the best chance for real change,” said Virginia McGathey, 60, who has been a broker at the world’s largest agricultural exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, for more than 35 years. “She (Lightfoot) has an opportunity to make enormous strides for women, for women of color, for women of all different backgrounds.”

Lightfoot will inherit massive fiscal challenges including a $28 billion unfunded liability for the city’s four retirement systems and escalating annual pension contributions that will top $2 billion in 2023.

chicago, first woman mayor
Voters fill out their ballot at a polling place during a runoff election for mayoral candidates Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Illinois, April 2, 2019. VOA

A projected $252 million budget deficit for fiscal 2020, which begins Jan. 1, awaits the new mayor, along with expired or expiring labor contracts with police, firefighter and public school teacher unions.

Neither candidate disclosed detailed plans to shore up the city’s sagging finances.

In debates, Lightfoot, a former corporate lawyer, said the city has to demonstrate it can be a “better fiscal steward” before it seeks more revenue.

Web designer Mary Farrelly, 30, in the city’s north side said she did not like that Preckwinkle imposed a soda tax on Cook County in 2017 and supported Lightfoot.

“I feel like she (Lightfoot) has a better take on not taxing us,” Farrelly said while walking her dog.

Lightfoot will take over a city ranked as one of the nation’s most violent. Homicides in Chicago declined by more than a quarter in 2018 from its five-year high of 769 in 2016.

chicago, first woman mayor
Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle leaves a polling place after voting during a runoff election for mayor against Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Illinois, April 2, 2019. VOA

But less than one out of five murders was solved in Chicago in the first half of 2018, according to local media.

The next mayor will be expected to deliver on a campaign promise to reform the police department currently under court-appointed oversight to address a 2017 Justice Department finding of widespread excessive force and racial bias by officers.

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On day one, she will also have to find a way to ease tension between the police department and state’s attorney after prosecutors decided to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a hate crime attack. (VOA)

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Move over Baseball, it’s Cricket Time in Chicago

West Loop Cricket Association (WLCA), Chicago, provides an unbeatable platform to the hundreds of cricket fans in US

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Players representing as many as 20 diverse neighbourhoods from Chicago and suburbs, were joined by those who drove hundreds of miles to be part of this fun tournament.

By West Loop Cricket Association, Chicago

Two days. 18 teams. 25 games. One winner. Thats cricket in Chicago for you. Baseball.

Played in the sprawling University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Michelle Obama Athletic Complex, in the west loop neighbourhood of Chicago, the Super 8 Cricket Tournament is becoming a huge hit among the cricket crazy fans in Chicago and neighbouring cities like Ohio.

When four IT guys, originally from India (Harry, Shreenidhi, Vivek, Harsha), decided to start a cricket club in Chicago, little did they know, that what was started as a one time game, would take shape of a tournament, being played every year.

Since its inception in 2017, the number of participating teams in the Super 8 Cricket Tournament, has gone from 8 to 18. This time, according to the organisers, registrations had to be stopped in five days. Talk about supply exceeding the demand.

Baseball, Cricket, Chicago
Since its inception in 2017, the number of participating teams in the Super 8 Cricket Tournament, has gone from 8 to 18.

“Our initial goal was 16, then we moved to 18, but then we had to stop the registration, as the teams kept coming from different neighbourhoods, says Vivek Sarkar, Co-founder, WICA (West Loop Cricket Association). We also got requests from few non-Indians, which we will try to accommodate, next time.”

Sponsorship association with US Bank reflects the games’ huge popularity and increasing fan base, in the city known for it’s love for baseball (Chicago Cubs).

“It is an honor to sponsor the WLCA and this wonderful event! Thank you for allowing U.S. Bank to be a part of your cricket family. Cheers to your success”, says Susan Brown, Mortgage Loan Originator, US Bank.

For the players, it’s the undying love for the game of cricket that pulls them together. Players representing as many as 20 diverse neighbourhoods from Chicago and suburbs, were joined by those who drove hundreds of miles to be part of this fun tournament. Every year this tournament brings in new experince, new motivation.

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“Basically for love of the game, we like organising and managing things, want to stay connected in this way, and spread this game around. Chicago is a very diverse city, many people often ask us about cricket, which makes us so happy. I would love to make this the best cricket league in Chicago”, says Kunal, Member, Core Organising Team.

For a few teams, even names are typical Indian (Chennai Super Kings, Hyderabad Nawab, Hyderabad Blues).

If you want to get in touch and participate in the next year’s tournament, the core organising team includes Kunal, Niranjan, Sunil, Saurabh, Vijay, Yogesh and Rahul.

This year GloryHunters took the champions trophy while defending champions Chicago Centaurs were the runners up.