Brandon Johnson : Lori Lightfoot, the incumbent, was unable to secure a second term in the February election.
Brandon Johnson, a former public school teacher, has been elected as the next mayor of Chicago, winning by a slim margin of approximately 51% to 49% over his opponent, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Paul Vallas. Despite the Chicago Board of Elections reporting that mail-in votes for the runoff election will not be counted for days, Vallas conceded to Johnson on Tuesday. In the February election, both Johnson and Vallas led a crowded pack of candidates, with neither receiving more than 50% of the vote. Incumbent Lori Lightfoot also failed to secure a second term in that election, becoming the first Chicago mayor in 40 years to do so. In his victory speech, Johnson emphasized his commitment to working with all Chicagoans, even those who did not vote for him. Only 33% of those registered to vote in Chicago cast their ballots for Tuesday’s election, according to the Chicago Board of Elections.
This turnout is low compared to the previous mayoral elections, which saw a turnout of around 34% and 42% in 2015 and 2019, respectively. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have played a role in the lower turnout, as many voters opted for mail-in ballots.
Johnson’s victory is seen as a progressive win, with his campaign focused on addressing issues of inequality, particularly in education and housing. He has promised to invest in public schools, expand affordable housing, and address the issue of police violence in the city. Johnson’s win is also significant in that he is the first Black mayor to be elected in Chicago since Harold Washington in 1987.
On the other hand, Vallas campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility and job creation, emphasizing his experience in managing the city’s finances during his tenure as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Despite his loss, Vallas acknowledged the importance of working together for the betterment of the city.
As Johnson prepares to take office, he faces a daunting task of addressing the city’s various challenges, including its longstanding issues of crime, poverty, and inequality. However, many Chicagoans are hopeful that his progressive agenda and commitment to working with all residents of the city will help bring about much-needed change.
rewrite”In the six-week run-up to Tuesday, Vallas and Johnson sparred in numerous televised debates about issues like crime and education. However, underscoring the conversations was the obvious contrast between the progressive left of the Democratic Party, represented by Johnson, and the moderate wing of the party, represented by Vallas. “You have Vallas being called a Republican and Johnson being called a Socialist. Those issues are designed, of course, to get a more reptilian brain response from voters, but they don’t tell us exactly where both campaigns are on the major issues rather than a broad brush,” said Arthur Lurigio, a criminologist at Loyola University Chicago. “Being extreme is in their interest.” Johnson capitalized on comments Vallas made years ago about critical race theory and he has blasted both endorsements and campaign donations Vallas received from prominent Republicans like Darren Bailey, the Illinois senator who lost the state’s recent gubernatorial election, and a PAC founded by Betsy DeVos, the former education secretary under former President Donald Trump.
Throughout the campaign, there have been accusations that Vallas has Republican ties, which is considered a smear in the predominantly Democratic city. These allegations have been seen on yard signs, stickers, and in a television ad that claims Vallas is “endorsed by the Chicago Republican Party.”
Last weekend, Republican Party Chairman Steve Boulton issued a statement denouncing Johnson and claiming that his campaign was spreading lies about the endorsement. He further stated that the ad was false and that broadcasters had a legal obligation to pull it.
Vallas, who earned the endorsement of the local Fraternal Order of Police, criticized Johnson for past comments about defunding the police. Both candidates expressed a desire to hire more detectives, but Vallas wanted to fill more than 1,700 vacancies in the department, while Johnson wanted resources directed towards schools and mental health services. Vallas also argued that Johnson’s plan to raise an additional $800 million in taxes would harm the city’s economy.
Vallas secured endorsements from prominent leaders within the state Democratic Party, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. Meanwhile, Johnson, whose campaign was funded by the Chicago Teachers Union, received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.