CHICAGO—May 15 marked a monumental day for the city of Chicago, as the new mayor, Brandon Johnson was inaugurated. Mayor Johnson, 47, became the 57th mayor and third Black mayor to America’s third-largest city.
Mayor Johnson is a former Chicago public school teacher, longtime Chicago Teachers Union organizer, and also served as Cook County commissioner.
Several thousand supporters packed the Credit Union One Arena to witness and participate in the swearing-in ceremony of the new mayor. During the ceremony, there were many performers including Grammy award-winning gospel artist Karen Clark Sheard who sang “Total Praise” and “The Impossible Dream,” a dance performance by the Muntu Dance Theatre, a Presentation of Colors presented by the Hyde Park Academy JROTC, and the Black National Anthem was sung by Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago.
Among the attendees were Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and former Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot remarked that the inauguration was a peaceful transfer of power.
During his first speech as mayor, Johnson stated, “We get to write the story of our children’s and our grandchildren’s futures, and we get to do that together. Let’s build a Chicago that means that our economy gets to grow by rerouting the rivers of prosperity to the base of disinvestment so that no one goes thirsty. Too much of our land is dry right now, and we have to change that, and we can.”
Referencing the proposal, Bring Chicago Home, which is a proposal to increase the real estate transfer tax on sales of properties valued at more than $1 million, and use that increased revenue to fund services for those experiencing homelessness, Johnson stated, “We can bring Chicago home. My family is living proof of the type of transformation that can happen with real investments. I want to live in a city where 65,000 people don’t wake up living on the streets or in shelters, and where everyone has a true path to homeownership.”
Addressing the spike in violence, Johnson stated, “We have no time to spare, the city’s safety is up to the entire city not just the police. Our faith leaders, our philanthropic institutions, our business community, violence interrupters, researchers, educators, coaches, counselors; it’s going to take all of us. Not one of us can sit down. In order to make a better, stronger, safer Chicago, I’m counting on the entire city to deliver this.”
Supporters who attended the inauguration were moved by the optimistic tone of the new mayor. “I think Brandon is going to be a good mayor. I did a lot of campaigning to make sure he was going to win,” stated West Side Chicago resident, Birtha Mitts.
“Tackling the crime issue is going to take a lot of people at the table and resources, to solve these problems on this level. I think what Mayor Johnson has demonstrated in transition is bringing people to the table to discuss several avenues to engage with a full analysis to come to a solution,” stated Wayne Richards, a South Shore resident.
“I’m definitely for treatment not trauma, so I think opening the mental health facilities is going to be really good,” stated another South Side resident, named Ahrianna.
After the inauguration, Mayor Johnson made his way to City Hall where he signed four executive orders to boost youth employment, establish a deputy mayor for Immigrant, Migrant and Refugee rights, establish a deputy mayor for community safety to address the root causes of violence and establish a deputy mayor for labor relations to foster and promote the welfare of wage earners, job seekers, and retirees. (Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected]