Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson was elected Chicago’s next mayor Tuesday night, multiple outlets reported, defeating former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in a runoff race marked by contention over policing.
Johnson is a longtime member of the Chicago Teachers Union, which broke its own rules by donating more than $1.5 million in member dues to support his campaign, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Vallas after major crime rose under first-term incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who failed to advance to the runoff.
Johnson had won about 51.4% of the counted vote by the time of this writing, according to The New York Times.
Lightfoot lost to Vallas and Johnson by more than 16% and 4% respectively in the Feb. 28 first-round election. Vallas repeatedly accused Johnson of wanting to “defund the police,” which Johnson had called a “real political goal” during a December 2020 radio show.
Johnson pledges to reopen Chicago’s mental health clinics and “direct more funds to violence prevention and community safety programming that address the root causes of community violence.” He also vows to “fully fund year-round youth employment” and partner with the Chicago Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability to “hold police accountable.”
Vallas promised to increase the Chicago Police Department’s sworn officer staff from just over 11,700 officers to 13,500, the staffing level in place when he served as Chicago’s budget director in the mid-1990s.
As mayor, I will invest in Chicago’s neighborhoods, jobs, and schools. We will work with police and first responders to make streets safer, while finally tackling the root causes of crime. #vote4safetychi
— Brandon Johnson (@Brandon4Chicago) March 14, 2023
Johnson labelled Vallas a Republican throughout the runoff campaign, citing how he characterized himself as “more of a Republican than a Democrat now” in a 2009 interview, according to Politico. Vallas’ campaign received significant contributions from Republican donors, but he insists that he is a “lifelong Democrat.”
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and several House members endorsed Johnson. Vallas amassed endorsements from Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, former Rep. Bobby Rush, former Gov. Pat Quinn, former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and former Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
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