Multiple outlets reported that Brandon Johnson, Cook County Commissioner, was elected Chicago’s next Mayor Tuesday night. He defeated Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools CEO, in a race marked by disagreement over policing.
According to the Illinois Policy Institute, Johnson is a long-standing member of the Chicago Teachers Union. The union broke its own rules and donated more than $1.5million in member dues to Johnson’s campaign. After major crimes rose under Lori Lightfoot’s first term, Vallas was supported by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. She did not advance to the second round.
According to The New York Times, Johnson had received 51.4% of the total vote at the time of writing.
Lightfoot was defeated by Johnson and Vallas by more than 16% each in the February 28 first-round election. Johnson was repeatedly accused by Vallas of wanting to “defund” the police, which Johnson called a “real political objective” on a December 2020 radio program.
Johnson promises to reopen Chicago’s mental hospitals and to direct more funding to violence prevention and community safety programs that address the root causes behind community violence. He also pledges to partner with the Chicago Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability in order to “hold the police accountable.”
Vallas pledged to increase Chicago Police Department’s sworn officers from just over 11,700 to 13,500. This was the same staffing level that Vallas had when he was Chicago’s budget director in mid-1990s.
According to Politico, Johnson called Vallas a Republican during the runoff campaign. He cited how he described himself as more of a Republican now than a Democrat in a 2009 interview. Vallas received substantial contributions from Republican donors to his campaign, but he insists that he has been a “lifelong Democrat”.
Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Illinois Attorney-General Kwame Raoul, and many other House members endorsed Johnson. Vallas received endorsements from Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, former Rep. Bobby Rush and former Gov. Pat Quinn, former Illinois Secretary-of-State Jesse White, and former Education Secretary Arne Dunn.