CHICAGO — With her left hand resting on the Bible she received as a high school graduation gift, Massillon native Lori Lightfoot became the mayor of the nation's third-largest city.

Her wife, Amy Eshleman, and daughter, Vivian, were by her side as Lightfoot made history becoming the first black woman and first openly gay person to become mayor of Chicago.

The 56-year-old Democrat, who graduated from Washington High School in 1980, takes the reigns from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama's onetime chief of staff, who did not seek re-election.

This also marks the first time all three top executive offices in Chicago are held by women.

City Clerk Anna Valencia and Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin also were sworn in to office during the event Monday.

The city's 50-member City Council, including a number of new aldermen also took oaths.

During her approximately half-hour speech, Lightfoot drew from Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks and called for citywide unity in addressing public safety, education, financial stability and “integrity” — a reference to Chicago’s infamous corruption, The Chicago Tribune reported.

“For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready because reform is here,” Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, said. “I campaigned on change, you voted for change, and I plan to deliver change to our government.”

Campaigning as a long-shot first-time candidate, Lightfoot pledged to dismantle Chicago’s “broken and corrupt political machine” and end what she called unchecked power of city aldermen (council members) over matters in their wards.

On her first day in office, Lightfoot signed an executive order limiting so-called aldermanic prerogative over matters such as permitting and licensing — the first of many conflicts as she seeks to fulfill her signature campaign pledge to “bring in the light.”

 

Nod to mom, family

Lighftoot also called attention to her 90-year-old mother, Ann Lightfoot, whom she said laid a foundation for her to become the woman she is today.

"She's my role model, my champion," the new mayor said as she fought back tears. "The woman whose dreams and high expectations for me propelled me through life."

Lightfoot said her mother and her late father, Elijah, gave her and her three siblings the best they could growing up in what she called "a segregated Ohio steel town" even when they had almost nothing left to give.

Her parents, she said, led by example and instilled a clear set of values that included loyalty to family, friends, and community and the importance of hard work, education and integrity.

Speaking to her mother, who was seated in the front row surrounded by a bevy of family and friends — five generations of Ann Lightfoot's family — she thanked her mom and her late father, who had assured her she could be anything.

"That I could not be held back by my race, gender, or family financial status," Lighftoot said, her voice quivering at times with emotion. "That I should hold my head high and not let anyone else dictate the course of my future. That no goal was out of reach, that no victory was too unlikely to pursue."

Lightfoot said she is working to make her mother proud and honor her parents' sacrifice by living up to the values they instilled in her in order to make sure that families like theirs don't have to struggle.

Lightfoot promised to honor those who have built and those who continue to build Chicago, a city of more than 2.7 million people, and pledged to address violence and public education as well as corruption in government, to level the playing field and provide better opportunities for all residents whether they are rich, poor, black, brown or white.

She was met with loud cheers and applause throughout her speech.

 

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.