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    Chicago Mayoral Race: Lori Lightfoot Faces Challengers

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces a wide field of challengers on Tuesday, including one front-runner who has portrayed Chicago as a city in disarray.CHICAGO — Chicagoans were heading to the polls on Tuesday morning to vote in highly contested mayoral and City Council races that have largely focused on crime, policing and the performance of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is seeking a second term leading the nation’s third-largest city.Ms. Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who ran as a change agent vowing to root out corruption and reform the Chicago Police Department, won 74 percent of the vote in the final balloting when elected four years ago, a favorite of progressives who hailed her historic victory as the city’s first Black, female mayor.But she has faced widespread dissatisfaction from voters since, and many have thrown their support to other candidates: Eight challengers have lined up against her, and unless one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote — a highly unlikely scenario — the top two finishers on Tuesday will advance to a runoff on April 4.Among the front-runners in the race is Paul Vallas, a Democrat with more conservative views on crime and education, who has portrayed Chicago as being in a state of disarray.Taylor Glascock for The New York TimesPolls suggest that Ms. Lightfoot, whose rivals have positioned themselves to both her political left and right, is in a tight contest for one of those spots. Voters have said in surveys that issues driving the race include crime, the economy, education and immigration.Perhaps most threatening to Ms. Lightfoot’s re-election chances is the spike in homicides and shootings in 2020 and 2021, and civil unrest and looting that scarred retailers, including those on the famed Magnificent Mile. In 2021, robberies, thefts and burglaries increased from the year before, leaving many Chicagoans unsettled about the direction of the city.Monica Jain, a property manager who lives in the Gold Coast neighborhood near downtown Chicago, left a polling place on Monday and said that she had heard Ms. Lightfoot talk about how some crime rates had now decreased. But, Ms. Jain said, “I’m worried about the South and West Sides,” where gun violence is most acute.Among the front-runners in the race is Paul Vallas, a Democrat with more conservative views on crime and education, who has portrayed Chicago as being in a state of disarray. Running with an endorsement from the local Fraternal Order of Police, he has called for expanding the police force, improving arrest rates for serious crimes and expanding charter schools.Brandon Johnson, a mayoral candidate and Democratic county board commissioner, answered a question from a Kenwood Academy High School student at a mayoral forum on Saturday.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesBut in making her final pitch to voters this weekend, Ms. Lightfoot pointed to investments in long-neglected neighborhoods and made the case that the city had emerged from the coronavirus pandemic in a strong position.“If you care about making sure that we continue to right historic wrongs and invest in areas of our city that have been without for far too long, that’s on the ballot,” Ms. Lightfoot told a crowd at a union hall on Saturday.Voters appeared unsure of whether they were willing to give her another chance. Chicago mayors have wide-ranging powers, even compared with mayors in New York City and Los Angeles: They oversee the sprawling public-transit system, Police and Fire Departments, schools, parks and other agencies. And when crime spikes or potholes go unfilled, Chicagoans tend to blame their mayor.Ms. Lightfoot, 60, has faced a cascade of crises since taking office. In 2019, she clashed with the powerful teachers’ union, leading to an 11-day strike, the longest in decades. Then, in 2020, the pandemic hit, sending unemployment soaring and leaving skyscrapers in the Loop mostly empty of workers and Chicago businesses struggling to survive.The economy has since rebounded, and downtown Chicago is attracting tourists and conventions again. But Ms. Lightfoot appears to have made far more enemies than friends as mayor, struggles to find support on the City Council and has gained a reputation as a pugilistic and mercurial leader.A voter filled out her electronic ballot on Monday in the final hour of early voting at the Welles Park polling site in Chicago.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated PressMr. Vallas, 69, has taken a lead in the polls, but has also been dogged by ideological inconsistencies. He said in a television interview in 2009 that he considered himself more of a Republican than a Democrat, a strike against Mr. Vallas in the eyes of many voters in overwhelmingly liberal Chicago. Last week, The Chicago Tribune reported that Mr. Vallas’s Twitter account had liked a series of tweets that used insulting and racist language; Mr. Vallas suggested that hackers were to blame.Ms. Lightfoot is also fighting a challenge from Brandon Johnson, a Democratic county board commissioner who has been endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union. Mr. Johnson staked out a position to the left of Ms. Lightfoot on policing, at one point suggesting that he agreed with the movement to reduce funding to police departments, though he later backtracked.Another contender, Representative Jesús G. García, is also competing for votes from progressives: He traces his Chicago political experience back to the campaign to elect the city’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington, in 1983. Mr. García, who was born in Mexico, would be Chicago’s first Hispanic mayor. In 2015, he ran for mayor against the incumbent, Rahm Emanuel, winning enough votes to force a runoff.Polls suggest that Willie Wilson, a businessman with a base of support from working-class Black voters, is also within striking distance of the runoff.Mitch Smith More

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    As Lightfoot Tries for Second Term, Jabs Go From Friendly to Harsh

    When the pandemic took hold, Chicago was awash in affectionate memes featuring Lori Lightfoot, the city’s stern, no-nonsense new mayor. Since then, the joke has worn off.CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot was standing guard all over Chicago — virtually, anyway.In March 2020, in the early, frightening days of the coronavirus pandemic when city officials had closed down public spaces to stop the spread of the virus, a meme began circulating on social media with Ms. Lightfoot as the star: an image of her stern, unsmiling face Photoshopped around Chicago.There was Ms. Lightfoot in front of the giant, stainless steel Bean sculpture in Millennium Park, guarding the entrance to beaches along Lake Michigan and standing in a parking garage behind Ferris Bueller as he tooled around the city in a lipstick-red Ferrari.“Lori Lightfoot don’t play,” wrote one Twitter user, with an image of Ms. Lightfoot’s glowering face superimposed over picnickers in a Seurat painting that hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.Because she’s not a hero. She’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Lightfoot. pic.twitter.com/UzxT1wyozo— lu (@SquantsIsland) March 30, 2020
    At first, the real-life mayor was baffled by it. But after her City Hall aides explained that the meme was an affectionate nod to her tough persona and no-nonsense countenance, she warmed to the scolding Lightfoots that began to spring up all over the city, cardboard cutouts in the windows of apartments and shuttered stores. Chicagoans needed a laugh, and the image of the mayor — diminutive, a little surly, dressed in fedoras and trousers so long as they puddled at the ankles — had provided.But after Covid-19, a crime surge and a tough four years in office, what began as something friendly now also reflects harsher perceptions of the mayor and her time in office. Ms. Lightfoot at Wrigley Field in Chicago, in April 2020. The Chicago Cubs used Wrigley Field as a food distribution hub to help support Covid-19 relief efforts.Nam Y. Huh/Associated PressThe pandemic dominated life in Chicago during Ms. Lightfoot’s term as mayor. Lyndon French for The New York TimesThis week, Ms. Lightfoot is in a fight for survival as she runs for a second term as mayor in a city that has yet to recover from its pandemic-era struggles. The blunt, tough-talking persona that earned Ms. Lightfoot early affection and respect turned into something else: the image of a mayor with an exhausting capacity for feuds and insults, whether aimed at her own staff, city employees or fellow elected officials.She is one of at least four candidates viewed as having a good chance to make it into a runoff election and could very well lead the current nine-person field. But even some supporters now worry that she may have alienated many people she needs as allies. Those include business owners, City Council members and voters, some of whom are fed up with her tone and substance on issues like crime, policing and public education — and are turning to other mayoral candidates.Take Bruce Heyman, a former ambassador to Canada, who remembers during the pandemic when his children printed a picture of the stern Ms. Lightfoot and hung it on the refrigerator in his Chicago home — a wry warning not to eat the food inside.“She was endearing, there was no doubt about it,” he said. “She was somebody we had a lot of hope for.”Mr. Heyman, a former partner at Goldman Sachs who worked closely with the former mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, voted for Ms. Lightfoot in 2019. But he grew frustrated and disappointed with the mayor in the years since. During the pandemic and riots that tore through downtown after George Floyd’s murder, Mr. Heyman watched as Chicago’s problems began to multiply.“She didn’t tackle them as an effective leader — she began a very defensive, authoritarian style,” he said. “We’ve had strong mayors in our city before. But they got stuff done, and they were able to communicate and collaborate.”Andre Vasquez, a member of the City Council who represents a ward on the North Side, said that council members called her “the great unifier,” since so many members were lined up against her.“When there is disagreement, she takes it personally in a way that isn’t helpful,” Mr. Vasquez said. “It’s always felt very personal coming from her. And she can be dismissive and condescending.”Ms. Lightfoot has responded to critiques of her style by invoking previous mayors and saying she is no different.“I personally get asked this question of, ‘Well, Mayor, you know your relationships with City Council, shouldn’t you be nicer?’ Which I have to laugh at,” Ms. Lightfoot said last year. “When I think about who my predecessors were — I worked for Rich Daley and I was around Rahm a lot — it’s not like they won contests for Mr. Congeniality.”Chicago public school employees, teachers, students and supporters rallied outside City Hall, demanding increased funding from Ms. Lightfoot’s administration to lower class sizes and hire more support staff.Scott Heins for The New York TimesMs. Lightfoot spoke a news conference in 2019 as striking public school workers accused her of failing to deliver adequate funding and support.Scott Heins for The New York TimesAnd to many voters, her message and record resonated far more than her leadership style. Giavonni Downing, who works in marketing and lives on the South Side, said she liked Ms. Lightfoot’s message on investing in neighborhoods with fewer resources and thought the mayor deserved another term. “Covid hit, so, realistically, whatever you thought you were going to do when you got in office, all that had to go on the back burner,” said Ms. Downing, 40.In the final days of her campaign, the mayor has crisscrossed the city, trying to shore up support in neighborhoods that were once full of enthusiastic Lightfoot voters.On Friday afternoon, Ms. Lightfoot and her wife, Amy Eshleman, stopped in a record store in the Andersonville neighborhood on the Far North Side, an L.G.B.T.Q.-friendly community where rainbow flags peek out of storefront windows and hang above the porches of greystone buildings.Four years ago, Andersonville was a power center of Ms. Lightfoot’s support. Now many front yards are decorated with signs bearing her opponents’ names: Brandon Johnson, a county board commissioner; Paul Vallas, a former schools executive; and Representative Jesús G. García, a congressman from Illinois.Chris Hawkins, a manager at a nearby shop on Clark Street, was in the record store browsing when Ms. Lightfoot stopped in. Mr. Hawkins, who was born and raised in Chicago, said he would vote for Ms. Lightfoot again. She took care of the city during a trying time, he said, and she had been judged harshly because she is a woman.“We’re living in a society where women are marginalized and not perceived as leaders — they’re perceived as a stereotype,” he said. “I look at crime and stuff that’s happening in the city, and I just think, it’s easy to point the finger at one person. This is a mayor who’s taken on a lot.”Mitch Smith More

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    What to Know About Chicago’s Mayoral Election

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot is seeking a second term, but she faces a wide field of challengers who have attacked her record on crime, policing and education.CHICAGO — As residents of Chicago prepare to elect a mayor, they are staring at a highly uncertain picture: a race so wide open that even the incumbent, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who won every ward in the city in the final balloting four years ago, is not assured a spot in an expected runoff election.Chicagoans will pick on Tuesday among nine candidates at a pivotal time to lead the city, which has wrestled since the pandemic with a spike in homicides and an emptier downtown. At least four of the candidates are seen as serious contenders to make it to an April 4 runoff, and Ms. Lightfoot finds herself in between candidates casting themselves to her political left, and also to her right.In the final days of the race, Ms. Lightfoot has attempted to embrace her spot in the middle, arguing that the city needs to stay the course with her. Before a crowd at a union hall over the weekend, she accused one opponent of being an undercover Republican. Another, she said, would raise taxes and cut policing.In addition to Ms. Lightfoot, the top tier of candidates includes Jesús G. García, a progressive congressman; Brandon Johnson, a county commissioner endorsed by the local teachers’ union; and Paul Vallas, a former public school executive with a far more conservative platform on policing and education.Those candidates all describe themselves as Democrats, an unofficial prerequisite for winning citywide office, but have vastly different visions for Chicago. Here is what is shaping the race to lead the country’s third-largest city:The incumbent is on shaky ground.Ms. Lightfoot leveraged outsider status and a promise for sweeping reforms to win her seat in 2019, becoming the first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve as Chicago’s mayor.But she will enter this Election Day with uncertain prospects, dogged by diminished popularity, homicide rates that soared to generational highs and frequent feuds with labor unions and City Council members. Her campaign’s own polling in the weeks before the election showed her in the lead, but with only 24 percent of the vote. Ms. Lightfoot has spoken about a need to attract more people to Chicago. But while the city’s population grew slightly between 2010 and 2020, census estimates show that the number of residents has declined since then.Mayor Lori Lightfoot answered questions and defended her policies on education, crime and other issues at a gathering on the city’s North Side.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesSupporters of the mayor at a campaign rally. Ms. Lightfoot won all 50 city wards in the 2019 runoff election, but she enters this Election Day with uncertain prospects.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesFacing a crowded field, Ms. Lightfoot has portrayed herself this time not as a political outsider but rather as a serious, experienced leader who stabilized Chicago after being dealt a lousy hand. She has emphasized her investments in long-overlooked neighborhoods, defended her handling of the virus and noted that homicides have declined from their pandemic peak.Paul Vallas wants to talk about crime.When Mr. Vallas, a former chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, ran for mayor four years ago, he received just over 30,000 votes and finished in a distant ninth place.But this time, he has emerged as perhaps Ms. Lightfoot’s biggest electoral threat by portraying Chicago as a city in crisis and promising to crack down on lawbreakers. His campaign website describes the city in almost dystopian terms, saying it appears Chicago “has been surrendered to a criminal element that acts with seeming impunity in treating unsuspecting, innocent people as prey.”Mr. Vallas has called for increasing the number of police officers, replacing the police superintendent and improving arrest rates for serious offenses. But as he has made electoral inroads, emphasizing some of the issues that Mayor Eric Adams of New York City campaigned on in 2021, some have questioned whether he is out of step with Chicago’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.In a city with a powerful teachers’ union and a long-troubled Police Department, Mr. Vallas’s calls to invest in charter schools and prosecute more misdemeanor crimes have unnerved left-leaning residents and led Ms. Lightfoot to suggest his true loyalties are with the Republican Party. Then, in the final run-up to the election, The Chicago Tribune reported that Mr. Vallas’s Twitter account had liked an array of tweets about the mayor that used offensive language or described Ms. Lightfoot as a man. Mr. Vallas, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat, said he did not like those posts and suggested that his Twitter account was breached.The Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas received the endorsement of the police union, which could be crucial in consolidating conservative support but could also be a liability to some voters. Scott Olson/Getty ImagesRepresentative Jesús G. García greeting commuters in the Pilsen neighborhood. Eight years ago, he qualified for the runoff by uniting Hispanic voters with political progressives of all backgrounds.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesKey union endorsements could cut both ways.Two powerful labor unions that Ms. Lightfoot clashed with repeatedly — the conservative local branch of the Fraternal Order of Police and the liberal Chicago Teachers Union — have steered their supporters to two of her opponents. How much those endorsements will help or hurt remains an open question.Mr. Vallas received the police union endorsement, which could be crucial in consolidating support among right-leaning voters and supporters of the police. But that endorsement has been used as an attack line by Ms. Lightfoot, and it may be a liability among Chicagoans who do not trust the Police Department or who disapprove of the union’s frequently brash rhetoric and coziness with Republican politicians, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.The Chicago Teachers Union, basically the political opposite of the police union, gave its endorsement to Mr. Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and teacher running on an unabashedly progressive platform.The teachers’ union has emerged over the last decade as a powerful player in Chicago politics, engaging in repeated work stoppages, fighting with the last two mayors and putting forth a liberal vision for the city that extends beyond education issues. Its endorsement is now a coveted seal of approval on the progressive left. But after a bruising fight between that union and Ms. Lightfoot over Covid-19 school reopenings and precautions, and in a city where many residents name crime and public safety as their top concern, it is not yet clear what impact the teachers’ endorsement might have.Race has long been a factor in Chicago politics.Chicago, which has a long history of racial and ethnic groups voting as blocs, has roughly equal numbers of white, Black and Hispanic residents. This year’s mayoral field has seven Black contenders (including Ms. Lightfoot and Mr. Johnson), one white candidate (Mr. Vallas) and one Hispanic candidate (Mr. García).Beyond the four candidates leading in the latest polls, others retain significant support and hopes of squeezing into the runoff. Willie Wilson, a businessman who is locally famous for giving away gasoline and $100 bills, finished in fourth place in the 2019 mayoral election and is running again this year on a promise to clamp down on crime. Though Mr. Wilson, who is Black, has a strong base of working-class Black supporters, he has struggled in past campaigns to win votes outside of the South and West Sides.Some Black leaders have expressed concern that the makeup of the field could dilute the voting power of Black residents and lessen the chances of electing a Black mayor. In parts of the city with more Black and Hispanic residents, voter turnout is sometimes lower than in North Side wards where many white people live.Other Black candidates in the race include Kam Buckner, a state legislator; Ja’Mal Green, a civil rights activist; and Sophia King and Roderick Sawyer, both members of the City Council.But while race plays a role in Chicago politics, that role is not necessarily decisive.Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, is running on an unabashedly progressive platform.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesA sign for the candidate Willie Wilson on a corner in the Chinatown neighborhood. Mr. Wilson, a businessman, finished fourth in the 2019 election.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesFour years ago, two Black women, Ms. Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, built multiracial coalitions and emerged from a large, racially diverse slate of candidates to make the runoff. And eight years ago, Mr. García, who would be Chicago’s first Hispanic mayor, qualified for the runoff by uniting Hispanic voters with political progressives of all backgrounds.Electoral suspense has been a rarity in the past.Chicago voters of a certain age came to expect, for better or worse, a level of continuity at City Hall. Richard J. Daley led the city for more than 20 years, from the 1950s into the ’70s, as did his son Richard M. Daley, who served as mayor from 1989 until 2011. Elections still came around every four years, but they became more of a formality than a referendum.Even when the younger Mr. Daley left office 12 years ago, there was little uncertainty about who would take over. Rahm Emanuel, fresh off a stint as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, returned to Chicago and won a majority of the vote, clinching the job without a runoff. (If no single candidate gets a majority of votes in the first election, the top two finishers advance to a runoff.)Since then, mayoral elections have become far less predictable. Mr. Emanuel won a second term in 2015 but was forced into a runoff in a surprisingly close race with Mr. García. That runoff was the first since Chicago began holding officially nonpartisan elections in 1999. Four years ago, after Mr. Emanuel decided not to run again, Ms. Lightfoot emerged in somewhat surprising fashion from a broad group of candidates that included several more established figures, including William M. Daley, a former White House chief of staff, and Susana Mendoza, the Illinois comptroller. Whoever wins will face a changed City Council.To enact their agenda, every Chicago mayor must navigate the city’s 50-member City Council, a body known for its clubbiness, its members’ frequent criminal indictments and the immense control it can exert over development.As mayor, Ms. Lightfoot, who eliminated some of the sweeping privileges that Council members were historically given to govern their wards, has engaged in highly public disputes with some members even as she worked with them to raise the minimum wage and approve construction of a casino.But the Council is in the midst of a transformation. Several long-serving members have resigned or decided not to seek another term, leaving voters across much of the city to choose new representation. With all 50 seats up for election, and redrawn ward maps being used for the first time, voters will decide whether to empower more moderate or conservative candidates who have focused their campaigns on public safety issues, or elect progressives and Democratic Socialists calling for structural change. The outcomes of those races could determine what policies Ms. Lightfoot or her successor can pursue in the next four years. More

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    Black Mayors of 4 Biggest U.S. Cities Draw Strength From One Another

    The mayors of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston have banded together as they confront violent crime, homelessness and other similar challenges.As the race for Los Angeles mayor began to tighten late last year, Karen Bass, the presumptive favorite, received some notes of encouragement from a kindred spirit: Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago.Ms. Lightfoot had successfully navigated a similar political path in 2019, becoming the first Black woman to be elected mayor of her city, much as Ms. Bass was trying to do in Los Angeles.And even though Ms. Bass’s billionaire opponent had poured $100 million into the race and boasted endorsements from celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry, Ms. Lightfoot urged her Democratic colleague to keep the faith in a series of personal visits and text messages.“She was up against somebody who was very, very moneyed and was leaning into people’s fears about crime, about homelessness — frankly, very similar to the circumstances that I’m facing now in my city in getting re-elected,” Ms. Lightfoot said in an interview. “I just wanted to make sure that she knew that I was there for her.”Ms. Lightfoot and Ms. Bass belong to an informal alliance of four big-city mayors tackling among the toughest jobs in America. They happen to be of similar mind in how to address their cities’ common problems, like violent crime, homelessness and rising overdose deaths.They also happen to be Black: When Ms. Bass took office in December, the nation’s four largest cities all had Black mayors for the first time.The Democratic mayors — Ms. Bass, Ms. Lightfoot, Eric Adams of New York City and Sylvester Turner of Houston — say their shared experiences and working-class roots as Black Americans give them a different perspective on leading their cities than most of their predecessors.Mr. Adams visited Mayor Lightfoot last year during a fund-raising trip to Chicago.Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated PressIn interviews, the four mayors discussed how their backgrounds helped shape their successful campaigns, and how they provide a unique prism to view their cities’ problems.“We have to be bold in looking at long entrenched problems, particularly on poverty and systemic inequality,” Ms. Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to look those in the face and we’ve got to fight them, and break down the barriers that have really held many of our residents back from being able to realize their God-given talent.”Politics Across the United StatesFrom the halls of government to the campaign trail, here’s a look at the political landscape in America.Michigan G.O.P.: Michigan Republicans picked Kristina Karamo to lead the party in the battleground state, fully embracing an election-denying Trump acolyte after her failed bid for secretary of state.Dianne Feinstein: The Democratic senator of California will not run for re-election in 2024, clearing the way for what is expected to be a costly and competitive race to succeed the iconic political figure.Lori Lightfoot: As the mayor of Chicago seeks a second term at City Hall, her administration is overseeing the largest experiment in guaranteed basic income in the nation.Union Support: In places like West Virginia, money from three major laws passed by Congress is pouring into the alternative energy industry and other projects. Democrats hope it will lead to increased union strength.To do so can require navigating a delicate balancing act.Ms. Bass was a community organizer who witnessed the riots after the Rodney King verdict; Mr. Adams drew attention to police brutality after being beaten by the police as a teenager.As a congresswoman, Ms. Bass took a leading role in 2020 after George Floyd’s death on legislation that aimed to prevent excessive use of force by police and promoted new officer anti-bias training. It was approved by the House, but stalled in the Senate, and President Biden later approved some of the measures by executive order.In Chicago, Ms. Lightfoot served as head of the Chicago Police Board and was a leader of a task force that issued a scathing report on relations between the Chicago police and Black residents. Mr. Adams founded a group called “100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care” in the 1990s.As mayors, all now in their 60s, they have criticized the “defund the police” movement, yet have also called for systemic policing changes.In Chicago and New York, Ms. Lightfoot and Mr. Adams have pushed for police spending increases and have flooded the subway with officers. That has invited criticism from criminal justice advocates who say they have not moved quickly enough to reform the departments.“As a city, we have to have a police department that is successful,” Ms. Lightfoot said. “And to me, successful is defined by making sure that they’re the best trained police department, that they understand that the legitimacy in the eyes of the public is the most important tool that they have, and that we also support our officers — it’s a really hard and dangerous job.”Mr. Adams agreed. “We can’t have police misconduct, but we also know we must ensure that we support those officers that are doing the right thing and dealing with violence in our cities,” he said.The four mayors have highlighted their backgrounds to show that they understand the importance of addressing inequality. Mr. Adams was raised by a single mother who cleaned homes. Ms. Bass’s father was a postal service letter carrier. Ms. Lightfoot’s mother worked the night shift as a nurse’s aide. Mr. Turner was the son of a painter and a maid.Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Working Families Party, a prominent left-leaning group, said the mayors’ lived experience was all the more reason for them to “take a more expansive view of Black life that is expressed in their policies and in their budgeting,” and to prioritize schools, libraries, youth jobs and mental health care.“We want our communities invested in, in the way that other communities are invested in and the investment should not simply come through more police,” he said.In December, Ms. Bass became the first Black woman to be elected mayor of Los Angeles.Lauren Justice for The New York TimesThe four serve as only the second elected Black mayors of their respective cities. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago each went more than 30 years between electing their first Black mayor and the second; Houston went nearly two decades.The mayors have worked together through the U.S. Conference of Mayors as well as the African American Mayors Association, which was founded in 2014 and has more than 100 members — giving the four Black mayors an additional pipeline to coordinate with other cities’ leaders.“Because we’re still experiencing firsts in 2023, it’s our obligation that we’re successful,” said Frank Scott Jr., the first elected Black mayor of Little Rock, Ark., who leads the African American Mayors Association. “It’s our obligation that to the best of our ability we’re above reproach, to ensure that we’re not the last and to ensure that it doesn’t take another 20 to 30 years to see another Black mayor.”Of the four, Ms. Bass, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is perhaps the most left-leaning, characterizing herself as a “pragmatic progressive” who said she saw similarities between Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and herself as a young activist.“That’s who I was — that’s who I still am,” Ms. Bass said. “It’s just that, after a while, you want to begin to make a very concrete difference in people’s lives, as opposed to your positions and educating.” On her first day as mayor, Ms. Bass won praise for declaring a state of emergency on homelessness that gives the city expanded powers to speed up the construction of affordable housing. She also supports legislation by the Los Angeles City Council, known as “just cause” eviction protections, that bars landlords from evicting renters in most cases.A similar law in New York has stalled in the State Legislature, though supporters are hoping to pass it this year and have called on Mr. Adams to do more to help them.All the cities share a homeless crisis, as well as potential solutions. Houston has become a national model during Mr. Turner’s tenure for a “housing first” program that moved 25,000 homeless people directly into apartments and houses over the last decade.Now New York City is starting a pilot program based on Houston’s approach that will move 80 homeless people into permanent supportive housing without having to go through the shelter system.Mr. Turner, a lawyer who became mayor in 2016, said he called Mr. Adams after he won a close primary in New York in 2021 to offer his support. He defended Mr. Adams’s plan to involuntarily remove severely mentally ill people from the streets — a policy that has received pushback in New York.“I applaud him on that,” Mr. Turner said. “Is it controversial or some people will find controversy in it? Yes. But what is the alternative? To keep them where they are?”Mr. Turner, who is in his final year in office because of term limits, said he set out with a goal of making Houston more equitable. “I didn’t want to be the mayor of two cities in one,” he said.“I recognized the fact that there are many neighborhoods that have been overlooked and ignored for decades,” he later added. “I grew up in one of those communities and I still live in that same community.”Mr. Turner has claimed success for a “housing first” program that moved 25,000 homeless people directly into apartments and houses over the last decade in Houston.Go Nakamura for The New York TimesAnxiety among voters about the future of their cities could make it difficult for the mayors to succeed. Ms. Lightfoot, who is seeking a second term, faces eight opponents when Chicago holds its mayoral election on Feb. 28, and her own campaign shows her polling at 25 percent — well below the 50 percent she would need to avoid a runoff.Mr. Adams, a former police officer who was elected on the strength of a public safety message, has seen his support fall to 37 percent as he enters his second year in office, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.Concerns about crime are affecting both mayors. Chicago had nearly 700 murders last year, a major increase from about 500 murders in 2019 before the pandemic. In New York City, there were 438 murders last year, compared with 319 in 2019.In March, Mr. Adams met with Ms. Lightfoot while visiting Chicago for a fund-raiser at the home of Desirée Rogers, the former White House social secretary for President Barack Obama. At a joint news conference with Ms. Lightfoot, Mr. Adams reiterated his position that the communities most affected by policing abuses also tend to need the most protection.“All of these cities are dealing with the same crises, but there’s something else — the victims are Black and brown,” Mr. Adams said.Of the four mayors, Mr. Adams, in particular, has sought to align his colleagues behind an “urban agenda,” and to call in unison for federal help with the migrant crisis.Mr. Adams has also argued that the mayors’ messaging should be a model for Democratic Party leadership to follow, rather than what he called the “woke” left wing that he has quarreled with in New York.“The Democratic message was never to defund police,” he said, adding: “We’re just seeing the real Democratic message emerge from this group of mayors.” More

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    Lori Lightfoot Seeks a Second Term as Chicago Mayor

    CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot met recently with two dozen Chicagoans at a campaign event in a plush apartment building in the city’s affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood. Before long, she shifted into the rapid-fire mode that defined her career before City Hall, when she was a federal prosecutor known for her tenacity.She rattled off statistics, handpicked to show that Chicago was on the upswing: The number of shootings in the city had fallen 20 percent in 2022, after spiking during the pandemic. Homicides were down 14 percent. Carjackings decreased, too.“You know that crime is a complicated issue — you can’t just snap your fingers and make it disappear,” she said, adding: “If you don’t feel safe, none of the rest of it matters.”Whether Chicagoans believe that the city is getting safer could determine Ms. Lightfoot’s political future. Four years ago, after a politically battered Rahm Emanuel decided not to run for re-election, Ms. Lightfoot emerged from the back of a crowded pack to replace him. She ran as an anticorruption reformer who promised to do away with the old, clubby ways of governing in Chicago. She was elected in a landslide over more prominent, more experienced opponents, sweeping all 50 wards to become the city’s first Black woman mayor.Less than a year into her first term, though, Ms. Lightfoot, a Democrat, was hit with the Covid-19 pandemic and all its attendant crises — and she now governs a restless city that has yet to fully shake off its pandemic malaise.Chicagoans have a lot of gripes about the last several years, and many people have laid the blame at Ms. Lightfoot’s feet. Public transit has been shaky, with riders complaining of long waits for buses and “L” trains. Chicago’s school system has steadily lost enrollment, and in 2019, parents endured a teachers’ strike that shuttered schools for 11 days.The Willis Tower looms over the Chicago skyline and the north branch of the Chicago River.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesChicago’s public transit has been shaky, with riders complaining of long waits for buses and “L” trains.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesMs. Lightfoot spoke to a small group in a North Side condominium building about her policies on education, crime and other issues.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesAbove all other issues, crime has unsettled Chicago. Though many kinds of violent crimes fell in 2022, robberies, thefts and burglaries increased from 2021, according to the Chicago Police Department. The North Side is “as safe as it’s been in a generation,” Crain’s Chicago Business wrote in October, but other parts of the city have visibly suffered.“The city is worse than it’s ever been,” said Pamela Wortham, 65, as she pushed her grocery cart out of a Jewel-Osco store. Her neighborhood, South Shore, has struggled with gun violence and poverty. “But with the right person,” she said, “we could come up again.”Politics Across the United StatesFrom the halls of government to the campaign trail, here’s a look at the political landscape in America.Union Support: In places like West Virginia, money from three major laws passed by Congress is pouring into the alternative energy industry and other projects. Democrats hope it will lead to increased union strength.A Chaotic Majority: The defining dynamic for House Republicans, who have a slim majority, may be the push and pull between the far right and the rest of the conference. Here is a closer look at the fractious caucus.A New Kind of Welfare: In a post-Roe world, some conservative thinkers are pushing Republicans to move on from Reagan-era family policy and send cash to families. A few lawmakers are listening.Flipping the Pennsylvania House: Democrats swept three special elections in solidly blue House districts, putting the party in the majority for the first time in a dozen years by a single seat.Whether that person is Ms. Lightfoot, who is seeking a second term at City Hall, will be determined in the next few weeks. She is an unpopular mayor whose support has nose-dived in the last four years, in part because of her performance and in part because of the circumstances of the pandemic. Her own polling shows her leading an unwieldy pack of nine mayoral candidates, several of whom have run unsuccessfully before — but it shows her doing so with only 24 percent of the splintered vote.The mayoral election on Feb. 28 has attracted a long line of challengers, including Representative Jesús G. García, whose Congressional district includes parts of the city, and Paul Vallas, a former head of the Chicago Public Schools. Unless a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote — an extremely unlikely scenario — there will be a runoff in April between the two top finishers.Mr. Vallas, who was endorsed by The Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, has made solving the city’s crime problem his signature campaign issue. Mr. García, the son of Mexican immigrants, would be Chicago’s first Latino mayor; he won enough votes in the 2015 mayoral race to force Mr. Emanuel into a runoff.Edwin Eisendrath, a businessman and former alderman who has endorsed Mr. García, said that he supported Ms. Lightfoot in 2019 but has been disappointed in her approach to governing.“We have great universities, we have fabulous neighborhoods, we have important transit infrastructure — in the world of climate change, we have water,” he said, referring to Lake Michigan. “But there’s an enormous leadership gap in Chicago that we all feel, particularly in the last three years.”Many people point to her temperament. Ms. Lightfoot has sparred with the City Council; the Democratic governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker; and legislators in Springfield, particularly over a law that created an elected school board.The city was focused on rooting out corruption when she was elected mayor four years ago, said David Axelrod, the Chicago-based political strategist.Red lanterns hung overhead in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood this month. Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times“The city is worse than it’s ever been,” said Pamela Wortham, 65, a resident of the South Shore neighborhood.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesA new condominium building sits among century-old houses in the Avondale neighborhood.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times“She was the outsider prosecutor, the avenger who was going to come in and bring about change,” Mr. Axelrod said. “She’s a very pugnacious person. But the skill set that is required to run a city — you need some of that pugnaciousness, but you also need to cajole, recruit, compromise. The very qualities that made her appealing four years ago may have been a bit of an obstacle here.”In interviews around Chicago, many residents said they were frustrated with Ms. Lightfoot, bothered by a sense that the city has stagnated under her watch and unsure whether they wanted to give her another chance.Ms. Wortham said that her neighborhood, South Shore, had deteriorated while other areas of the city, especially on the North Side, have been thriving. She said that when she was a little girl, growing up in the house where she still lives, she could ride her bike to a nearby beach on Lake Michigan without any problems. Now she tells her 10-year-old granddaughter to stay inside, where she is safer.Ron Bailey, 57, a salesman from the South Side, said he was disappointed that the mayor had not lived up to her promises to overhaul the Chicago Police Department.“People are still suffering from the pandemic’s effects,” he said. “We see on the news every day what’s going on. There is a crisis of hope in our communities, and unless that crisis is addressed, we’re going to keep getting what we get.”Jens Ludwig, a professor and the director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, said that though the numbers of violent crimes have declined, it was not yet clear whether that was the beginning of a longer trend.“We don’t quite appreciate the effect of the pandemic enough on the crime problem,” he said. “You can see, all sorts of behavior problems have really gone up in the pandemic and post-pandemic period — motor vehicle deaths, disciplinary problems with kids, people fighting on airplanes. All of that stuff is part and parcel of the underappreciated lingering mental health consequences of the pandemic.”Ms. Lightfoot’s supporters say that her achievements — under difficult conditions — have been understated. The unemployment rate in Chicago is 4.3 percent, down from 18.3 percent in April 2020. The city’s economy remains diverse, a hub of transportation, manufacturing and technology.Jesse Chacon, 35, who lives on the West Side, said he voted for Ms. Lightfoot once and would probably do so again. “The city’s been good for me and for my family,” he said as he entered an “L” station this month, naming at least four relatives who work in the city’s public schools, fire department or police department.Jesse Chacon, 35, who lives on the West Side, said he would probably vote for Ms. Lightfoot. “The city’s been good for me and for my family,” he said. Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesA mural by a local artist in the Logan Square neighborhood on the North Side.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesCondominium towers in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesUnder Ms. Lightfoot, Chicago has made progress on improving its finances and has earned upgrades from credit rating agencies. The nonpartisan Civic Federation applauded Ms. Lightfoot last fall for including sizable supplemental payments to the city’s pension funds in her most recent budget, though it criticized her for a lack of transparency on police budgeting.“A lot of people have a very short memory of all that she accomplished,” said Tamar Newberger, a North Side resident who introduced Ms. Lightfoot at the campaign event on Monday. “The financial health of our city is greatly improved.”Anton Seals Jr., a founder and community organizer on the South Side, said he has seen a burst in Black entrepreneurship in Chicago in recent years, and praised Ms. Lightfoot for working on initiatives to invest in neighborhoods on the South and West Sides.“I think, to her credit, what she’s attempted to do is to shine a light and send resources to communities that haven’t gotten it,” he said. “At least in this administration, you’ve had a commitment to try to do something.”Among the campaign promises that Ms. Lightfoot has yet to fulfill is a vow to draw more people to live in Chicago. Its population grew by nearly 2 percent between 2010 and 2020, to more than 2.7 million people, though the city then lost roughly 50,000 residents during the pandemic, erasing that growth, according to census data.Juliana Santamaria, 34, a paralegal, is one former Chicagoan who left the city for the suburbs in recent years, driven out of the Pilsen neighborhood when her rent jumped by $400 a month. As she waited for an Uber with a friend in Pilsen this month, she said she missed living in Chicago and was mulling what she would do when her teenage children graduate from high school.“It’s one of my goals, to move back,” she said. More

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    Hazel McCallion, No-Nonsense Canadian Mayor for 36 Years, Dies at 101

    Tough, pragmatic and brusque when she had to be, she helped transform Mississauga from a sleepy Toronto suburb into one of the country’s largest and most dynamic cities.Hazel McCallion, who as the longest-serving mayor in Canadian history transformed the sleepy Toronto suburb of Mississauga into a multicultural dynamo and the country’s sixth-largest city, died at her home there on Jan. 29, nine years after she ended her 36-year run. She was 101.Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario and a close friend of Mrs. McCallion’s, said she died from pancreatic cancer.When Mrs. McCallion first won office, in 1978, Mississauga was a sprawling centerless community of about 250,000 people, little more than an extension of Toronto, its much larger neighbor to the east. Today it has a dense downtown core of skyscrapers, robust arts institutions and 750,000 people.And while Mississauga in the 1970s was overwhelmingly white, the city is now one of Canada’s most diverse, drawing immigrants from East and South Asia.Mrs. McCallion did not just survive but thrive through 12 terms by blending thrifty pragmatism with open-armed populism.Though she leaned slightly to the political left, she did not hew to a party platform or ideology. Her singular goal was to bring prosperity to Mississauga, which she did by keeping budgets trim — the city rarely carried debt or raised property taxes — and being unafraid to assert her city’s interests against its neighbors or in the Ontario provincial government.A copy of The Streetsville Booster, a community newspaper founded by Hazel and Sam McCallion, from 1978, the first year she ran for mayor of Mississauga. She won that election and went on to serve 12 terms.Cole Burston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images“Hazel McCallion does not caution,” the magazine Toronto Life wrote in 2003. “She berates. She harangues. She, well, bites off people’s heads.”But if politicians and bureaucrats feared her, voters loved her.After she decided not to run for re-election in 2014, she picked her successor, Bonnie Crombie, who won handily. No one was surprised: Mrs. McCallion left office with an 85 percent approval rating. They called her Hurricane Hazel, a tribute to her brash style more than a reference to the weather disaster that killed 80 people in Toronto in 1954.Her reputation was cemented just months after she took office, when a train carrying tons of toxic and flammable chemicals overturned near the middle of Mississauga. She immediately ordered most of the town, some 220,000 residents, to evacuate. Over several days she was there alongside the police and firefighters, ushering people to safety, undeterred by an ankle sprained along the way.And when it was over, she was fierce in her demand for damages.“It will be an astronomical sum,” she told reporters, “and somebody is going to get the bill.”Mrs. McCallion played professional hockey in the 1930s, and she remained the picture of ruddy health through her time as mayor, a fact that endeared her to voters. Even into her 80s, she carried a hockey stick in her car trunk, in case she came across a game. She fished, hiked and once, when she was 87, biked five miles to work to promote alternatives to driving.Mrs. McCallion in an undated photo. She won re-election repeatedly without campaigning or fund-raising, and she never faced serious opposition. Tara Walton for The New York TimesShe had come to politics from a career with an engineering company, starting in 1964 as a candidate for a municipal office in Streetsville, a village within Mississauga’s borders. After the two entities, along with a few others, combined to create the city of Mississauga, she moved effortlessly into the mayor’s office after defeating the incumbent by just 3,000 votes in her 1978 race.She never faced another serious opponent, and in two of her elections she didn’t face one at all, winning by acclamation. She did this without campaigning or fund-raising; she encouraged supporters eager to open their wallets to give to charity instead.“I don’t run a campaign, as you know,” she told the Canadian Press news agency in 2010. “I’m there with them four years. I don’t wait for an election to come along to campaign.”She was Mississauga’s chief booster, promoting it as a dynamic place that welcomed the businesses and the influx of immigrants entering Canada in the 1970s and ’80s.She was not without critics, who considered her imperious and even dictatorial. And she conceded that she kept a tight grip on the Mississauga City Council, allowing little dissent, at least in public.In 1982 and again in 2009, she was accused of failing to disclose conflicts of interest: first when land she and her husband owned was included in a possible development project, and later when she lobbied for a hotel project in which one of her sons was an investor.The first instance was not illegal at the time, and the second, which did go to court, was thrown out by a judge in 2013. Taken together, it was a record her defenders considered remarkably clean for a political career that began before most of her voters were born.A selection of McCallion memorabilia at the 2022 exhibition. “Having time on my hands is not acceptable,” she once said when asked if she thought about leaving office.Tara Walton for The New York TimesHazel Journeaux was born on Feb. 14, 1921, in Port-Daniel, a small town on the Gaspé Peninsula in southeast Quebec. Her father, Herbert, ran a fishing and processing company, and her mother, Amanda (Travers) Journeaux, was a nurse.The family moved to Montreal when Hazel was still a child, and after high school she took secretarial and business classes before being hired by M.W. Kellogg, an engineering company.She spent several years as a professional hockey player in Montreal, cementing a lifelong love for the sport. She played center for a team sponsored by Kick, a cola brand, and made $5 a game, the equivalent of about $65 in U.S. dollars today. In 1987 the Women’s World Hockey Championship named its trophy the Hazel McCallion World Cup.Her hockey career ended in 1940, when Kellogg opened an office in Toronto and she was sent to manage it.She married Sam McCallion in 1951. He died in 1997. She is survived by her sons, Peter and Paul; her daughter, Linda Burgess; and a granddaughter.Mrs. McCallion spent more than two decades as a manager with Kellogg before leaving to work with her husband and his printing business, and to get involved in politics in Streetsville. After three years on the village council, she was elected mayor of Streetsville in 1970.After the creation of the city of Mississauga, she served on its council for four years before being elected mayor in 1978 at age 57.Before, during and after her time as mayor, she led a backbreaking workday, rising at 5:30 and starting meetings at 7. She swatted away questions about leaving office, even long after most people her age would have retired.“Having time on my hands is not acceptable,” she told The Toronto Star in 2001, when she was 80. “If I quit, I’d have to find something very challenging to do. And what could be more challenging than being mayor?”After she finally did end her run as mayor in 2014, at 93, she continued to work. She served as the first chancellor of the Hazel McCallion Campus of Sheridan College, a Toronto-area technical school; she advised Mr. Ford, the Ontario premier; and she oversaw the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, a job that in 2019 took her on a tour of the world’s busiest airports.In a 2022 interview with the newspaper The National Post, she summed up her philosophy by recalling something her mother would ask her when she was young: “What do you want to accomplish in life? Do you want to be a follower or do you want to take advantage of opportunities to be a leader?” More

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    Repeat Election in Berlin Speaks to the ‘Chaos’ Many Residents Feel

    The do-over vote on Sunday is only the tip of the iceberg for a city some see as in crisis: short on housing, schools and efficient governance.BERLIN — The city’s airport came in more than $4 billion over budget and nine years late. Then there is the chronic housing shortage, the overcrowded schools and the crumbling subway system. If all of that is not enough to dispel any notion that Berlin is a model of efficiency, then maybe this Sunday’s court-ordered repeat election is.The vote is meant to make right the many things that went wrong in September 2021, when city and district governments were up for election but there were too few ballots and polling booths, leading to long lines at polling stations, amid the confusion of roads closed because of the Berlin Marathon.That election was annulled last year, and a panel of judges ordered a new vote, a first in modern German history. (Federal elections, also held that day, will not be done over on Sunday.) When the ballots are cast this time, there will be outside observers from the European Council, the top human rights panel on the continent — the sort of monitoring more typically done in places where there is fear of vote tampering or intimidation.“Berlin is unfortunately turning into a ‘chaos city’ — starting with politics,” Markus Söder, the belligerent governor of Bavaria, who appears to relish attacking the politics of the German capital, said recently.The disputed 2021 election was a win for the Social Democrats, the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which has been running Berlin’s government for 22 years. Franziska Giffey became the first woman elected the city’s mayor, and she formed a coalition with the Greens and the far-left Die Linke party.A crowded evening commute on Thursday at the Alexanderplatz stop.Ingmar Nolting for The New York TimesTrain access cut off because of construction repairs at the Nordbahnhof station.Ingmar Nolting for The New York TimesBut current polls have the conservative party in the lead ahead of Sunday’s election, and 68 percent of Berliners say their trust in their political institutions has declined since the last vote, according to a recent poll.Facing a major housing crisis, the city of 3.8 million is short about 125,000 apartments. Schools are understaffed, and parts of the public transportation system are offline for extensive repairs. Construction sites can snarl busy streets for months, if not longer. Major building permits can take years to process. And city services can be glacially slow, with some Berliners complaining that it can take months to get appointments for something as simple as registering a new address.“What I hate is the chaos, especially when it comes to the bureaucracy,” said Silvia Scheerer, 64, dressed in an elegant black fur-trimmed winter coat and waiting patiently for the subway, at a spot where since October trains have been running on a reduced schedule.Labor Organizing and Union DrivesApple: After a yearlong investigation, the National Labor Relations Board determined that the tech giant’s strictly enforced culture of secrecy interferes with employees’ right to organize.N.Y.C. Nurses’ Strike: Nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai in Manhattan ended a three-day strike after the hospitals agreed to add staffing and improve working conditions.Amazon: A federal labor official rejected the company’s attempt to overturn a union victory at a warehouse on Staten Island, removing a key obstacle to contract negotiations between the union and the company.Electric Vehicles: In a milestone for the sector, employees at an E.V. battery plant in Ohio voted to join the United Automobile Workers union, citing pay and safety issues as key reasons.A social worker who regularly deals with city workers in her job, she says she sees how swamped they are.“It’s worse than it’s ever been,” said Ms. Scheerer, who spent half of her life in Communist East Germany, where she said the city bureaucracy and transportation actually worked quite well.A construction site in Berlin on Thursday. It’s not uncommon for such work to disrupt busy streets for months at a time.Ingmar Nolting for The New York TimesMorning traffic on the A100 highway on a recent weekday.Ingmar Nolting for The New York TimesPart of the problem is how city government is structured. At the top level, the city is run by a mayor and senators who are elected by a city Parliament, similar to a state house in other German states. Below that are 12 district councils, each headed by a district mayor.“‘I am not in charge of that, I am not responsible for this’ and always pointing to somewhere else — that’s a classic in Berlin,” said Lorenz Maroldt, the editor in chief of the Berlin daily newspaper Tagesspiegel and a longtime chronicler of city politics and their dysfunction.This complex approach to governing makes building a single bike path that crosses several districts a nightmare, says Stefanie Remlinger, the district mayor of Mitte, in Central Berlin, which has nearly 388,000 citizens and 2,000 district staff members to handle their needs.A factor in both the housing and school crises: Berlin has absorbed thousands of new residents and refugees in recent years. Ms. Remlinger’s district currently has 55 schools; it needs five additional ones, she said, just to accommodate all of the newly arriving children.Stefanie Remlinger, the district mayor of Mitte, in her office.Ingmar Nolting for The New York TimesA visualization of the movement of rental bicycles in Berlin. The city’s complex system of governing makes it hard to do something like build a single bike path across several districts.Ingmar Nolting for The New York Times“Since 2015 we’ve been in crisis mode,” Ms. Remlinger said. “We’ve had a major refugee crisis to deal with, corona, the war, and with it another refugee crisis and inflation.” As in many other countries, workers are striking for better wages. This past week, both educators and other public-sector workers walked off their jobs over several days, meaning garbage piled up, medical procedures were rescheduled and students were not taught.Jochen Christiansen, 59, a sanitation worker, moved to West Berlin in the 1980s to avoid military service, as men living in the city were exempt from West Germany’s draft. Four decades ago, he said, the city worked: Rent was affordable, the schools were fully staffed and the bureaucracy was efficient.During a recent protest of city workers demanding a pay raise of 10.5 percent, he showed little sympathy for the city’s history of undertaking big-budget projects, like the beleaguered new airport, while neglecting its salaried public-sector workers.“I think it’s important to show that we’ll defend ourselves,” he said as he marched with a crowd of 2,500 public workers through central Berlin.A protest by public-sector workers in Berlin on Thursday.Ingmar Nolting for The New York TimesRalf Kleindiek is Berlin’s first chief digital officer.Ingmar Nolting for The New York TimesBut if many of Berlin’s challenges seem not unexpected for a European capital city dealing with new arrivals, inflation and a shortage of skilled workers, the failure to run an election crystallized the feeling that the administration could do better.“The vote itself might be one of the most instructive lessons on how this city doesn’t work,” said Ralf Kleindiek, who has taken on the formidable task of trying to bring the administration into the 21st century as its first chief digital officer.But luckily, says Mr. Maroldt, the newspaper editor, the city’s many problems have not robbed it of its many charms.“Despite its best efforts,” he said, “politics has not managed to spoil the fun of Berlin for most people.”Closed streets and construction work have become common sights in Berlin.Ingmar Nolting for The New York Times More

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    Arkansas City Elected an 18-Year-Old Mayor to Turn Things Around

    EARLE, Ark. — The shoe factory closed and the supermarket pulled out. So did neighbors whose old homes were now falling apart, overtaken by weeds and trees. Likewise, the best students at Earle High School often left for college and decided their hometown did not have enough to lure them back.Jaylen Smith, 18, could have left, too. Instead, when he graduated from high school last spring he resolved to stay put in Earle, a small city surrounded by farmland in the Arkansas Delta, where his family has lived for generations. More