Byrne, Jane, 1934–2014, American politician, b. Chicago as Margaret Jane Burke. She was Chicago's consumer sales commissioner (1968–77) under Mayor Richard Daley before she became the first woman to win election (1979) as mayor of the city, having defeated Michael Bilandic, Daley's successor, in the Democratic primary. During Byrne's single term, the city faced severe financial problems. In 1983 she ran for reelection but lost the primary to Harold Washington. She unsuccessfully challeged Washington in the 1987 Democratic primary.
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Byrne, Jane (b. Burke)(1934– ) mayor; born in Chicago. She worked in Chicago's antipoverty program (1963–68) and then as city consumer sales commissioner under Mayor Richard Daley (1968–77). She defeated the Democratic machine's candidate in the primary and as mayor of Chicago (1980–84) became the first woman to head a major American city. The city experienced serious financial problems during her tenure and she lost in the 1983 Democratic primary to Representative Harold Washington, who became the first African-American mayor of Chicago; he defeated her again in 1987. In the 1991 election, she unsuccessfully challenged Mayor Richard M. Daley Jr.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.