Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Two African American women, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, emerged from a crowded field of Chicago mayoral candidates to compete in a runoff election in April.
Lightfoot, a former U.S. attorney and former president of Chicago Police Board, and Preckwinkle will face each other in the April 2 runoff election after neither was able to secure more than 50 percent of the vote in the 14-candidate field.
"It is true, that not every day that a little black girl from a low-income family in a segregated steel town makes the runoff to be the next mayor of the City of Chicago," said Lightfoot. "This, my friends, is what change looks like."
Lightfoot finished the primary portion of the mayoral race leading all candidates with 17.5 percent of the vote, just above Preckwinkle's 16 percent.
"I congratulate Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle for their victories," he said. "One of them will have the honor of being the next mayor of Chicago."
Turnout was low early Tuesday as Chicago residents headed to the polls to vote in the city's mayoral election, officials said.
During the first two hours of voting, 4 percent of eligible voters, about 80,000 people, voted -- on pace for a record-low turnout.
Voters were tasked with choosing from a field of 14 candidates, the largest in the city's history, WLS-TV reported.
Among those seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who announced last summer he wouldn't run again, were four women and 10 men. Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, told the Chicago Sun-Times the reason for the low turnout could be because voters haven't made up their minds.
"The mixed message we got in vote-by-mail ballots is we had a record number apply, and then we've only had about half of them returned so far," Allen said. "That indicates that there is strong interest in this election, but people simply haven't made up their minds or they might take a pass on this first round."
The other candidates included:
-- Amara Enyia, director of Austin Chamber of Commerce
-- Bob Fioretti, former alderman
-- State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago
-- Jerry Joyce, former assistant state's attorney
-- John Kozlar, two-time aldermanic candidate
-- Garry McCarthy, former Chicago police superintendent
-- Susana Mendoza, Illinois comptroller and former Chicago city clerk
-- Neal Sáles-Griffin, entrepreneur
-- Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools CEO
-- Willie Wilson, businessman