According to NBC News, Brandon Johnson will become the next Mayor of Chicago. This is a remarkable turn for a former teacher and staunch progressive who campaigned on messages of racial inequality and economic disparities. He also overcame backlash over comments about decreasing funding for police.
Johnson defeated Paul Vallas (a well-funded, tough-on crime moderate who was a former CEO at Chicago Public Schools) who pledged to immediately increase the Chicago Police ranks in an effort to end the crisis of gun violence.
Vallas stated in remarks to supporters that he called Brandon Johnson and told them I expect him to be the next Mayor.
This victory marks a rapid rise for Johnson (46), a Cook County commissioner, activist, and member of Chicago Teachers Union. Johnson had finished in fifth place in the first round, which was held February 28, before finishing in second behind Vallas.
Johnson ran on the platform of taxing the rich to increase citywide services, and investing in the neighborhoods and schools throughout the city. Johnson retracted comments about cutting funding for police departments. He said he wanted to increase the ranks of detectives and also invest in mental health services.
Vallas (69) is adding another loss to the list of failed attempts at public office. This includes unsuccessful attempts for governor, lieutenant governor, and mayor only four years ago.
Vallas's disciplined message about crime made him the top vote-getter in February's vote. This eliminated Lori Lightfoot from contention for re-election. Lightfoot's candidacy was a referendum on crime. With murders in 2021 at their highest point in 25 years, it led to Lightfoot becoming the first Chicago mayor to lose reelection in 40 decades.
Johnson's success was ultimately due to the strength of strong city unions. These included the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which have a strong presence in the city. Johnson was also criticised by the CTU for spending millions of dollars on his candidacy.
"The conversation we're having now is about, "What does a safe American city look like now in this nation?" Johnson spoke with NBC News in a recent interview. They look like they have fully funded their neighborhood schools, good-paying jobs, affordable housing, reliable, and safe public transport.
He said, "This race is all about doing what works." "And what works? We invest in people. Data shows that a community that is loved, supported, and invested in by its members is the best predictor of a safe neighborhood.