CHICAGO—April 4 was election day in Chicago, the monumental day that Brandon Johnson won the highly sought-after position over Paul Vallas.
Mr. Johnson, the 47-year-old Cook County Commissioner and Chicago Teachers Union lobbyist, became the 57th mayor of the third largest city in the United States. With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Johnson had 51.7 percent of the vote with 302,619 votes, and Vallas had 48.2 percent of the votes with 282,406 votes. About one-third or 35 percent of Chicago’s registered voters residents voted.
The former public school teacher stated that public safety is his top priority. He becomes the city’s third elected Black mayor, following Harold Washington and Lori Lightfoot.
Mr. Johnson, touted as a progressive, spoke with ABC7 political reporter Craig Wall, and stated, “Obviously, public safety is something that has been on the minds of people in the city of Chicago for a very long time. I mean it’s a very severe problem, and uniting the city requires us to sit down and talk to everyone.”
He said that includes police, community and faith leaders, and members of the newly elected district police councils.
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas conceded. “I ran for mayor to bring this city together, and it’s clear from this result tonight that this city is deeply divided. It’s critically important that we use this opportunity to come together. I’ve offered him my full support in this transition. I look forward to working with him and providing him with the support he needs to be successful,” said Mr. Vallas.
Shantonia Jackson, member organizer for the SEIU Healthcare (Service Employees International Union), shared what she is looking for in the city’s next mayor. “Today’s election is important to me because I think as far as Chicago is concerned, we’ve always had politicians run our city. We need people who work like us to work for the city. How do you know my struggle if you haven’t lived my struggle? So hopefully this election can get a politician that can work with us, not against us,” said Ms. Jackson.
“I believe Brandon Johnson would be a good mayor for this city because he’s a teacher, he’s an organizer. He understands the struggles the communities go through, and maybe now our schools can get some money allocated to them.”
The former Chicago public school teacher was endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, with the CTU president releasing a statement saying, “Today, Chicago has spoken. Chicago has said yes to hope; yes to investment in people; yes to housing the unhoused, and yes to supporting young people with fully-funded schools. It is a new day in our city.”
Mr. Johnson ran on a platform of investing in schools and neighborhoods and taxing the wealthy in the city. During a pre-election interview with Block Club Chicago, he said he would not defund the police if elected, but he would steer city dollars to implement a more “holistic approach to public safety.”
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker also released a congratulatory statement, saying in part, “I’d like to congratulate Mayor-elect Johnson on his victory. I am committed to a productive partnership that advances our shared priority of making Chicago an even better place to live, work, do business, and raise a family.”
Outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot also issued a congratulatory statement and the importance of Chicagoans of all races and ethnicities to work together for the betterment of the city. “My entire team and I stand ready to collaborate throughout the transition period. As always, I will continue to root for the city I call home, and to work toward more equity and fairness in every neighborhood. I am hopeful and optimistic that the incoming administration will carry forth our work to that end,” her statement read in part.
Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson will be sworn in on May 15. Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected].