CHICAGO—After an at times contentious battle, two candidates emerged who will face-off in the Chicago mayor’s race. The top two candidates out of nine vying for the position are Brandon Johnson, a Cook County Board Commissioner, and Paul Vallas, a former Chicago Public Schools executive.
The election will be held April 4 after current Mayor Lori Lightfoot failed to garner enough votes for a second term. She conceded and her defeat left the first Black woman mayor as only the third mayor in 40 years not elected to a second term in Chicago. Chicago primary elections took place on February 28.
Mr. Vallas has portrayed Chicago as being in a state of turmoil under Ms. Lightfoot’s leadership. With an endorsement from the local Fraternal Order of Police, he has run an aggressive campaign arguing that he can make the city safer. He has called for bolstering the police force, improving arrest rates for serious crimes and expanding charter schools. Mr. Johnson, who was one of seven Black candidates, won over many political progressives, with a focus on defunding the police. Mr. Vallas consolidated support in more conservative neighborhoods and was the only White candidate in the race.
East Woodlawn resident Jennie Newsome asked why don’t the Black candidates get together and select a consensus candidate. She is concerned that the city will never have “another Harold Washington,” who was the first Black mayor of Chicago. “Chicago needs an all-inclusive mayor and not just empty promises and someone that knows how to run and manage a corporation because that’s what Chicago lacks,” she said.
She explained what she thinks the city needs. “There should be more than one police superintendent, more programs for jobs with decent salaries, and programs for homeowners to get loans or grants to repair their properties. Cleanup the vacant buildings for more affordable housing. Yes, Chicago needs change and not the same old way of doing business.”
Shortly after Mayor Lightfoot’s defeat, her handpicked police superintendent, David Brown, announced his resignation. Mr. Brown’s resignation will take effect on March 16. According to CBS News, he will be returning to Texas and working in the private sector.
“I’ve accepted a job opportunity to be the Chief Operating Officer of Loncar Lyon Jenkins, a personal injury law firm with seven offices in Texas. I will be stepping down as Chicago Police Superintendent effective March 16, 2023, so the incoming mayor can begin the process as soon as possible to hire the next superintendent,” reported CBS. Like Ms. Lightfoot’s tenure, superintendent, Brown’s, reign as the city’s top cop was not without its critics.
“I thought that Mayor Lightfoot did some good things for the little man, such as lifting or restructuring library fines, worked to eliminate parking ticket fines from doubling after 30 days, and a few other things. She made some missteps but represented Black people better than I expected,” said Grand Crossing resident Robert Palmer.
“Police Superintendent Brown’s heart may have been in the right place, but he doesn’t know Chicago as well as needed. He doesn’t seem to be independent (and) it seems like the mayor’s thumbprint was on his decisions. I wish them both well,” he said.
(Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected])