Chicago welcomes a new mayor

On April 4, 2023, Brandon Johnson won the Chicago mayoral election defeating Paul Vallas. Both candidates are Democrats who focused on the issues of crime within the city.

Brandon Johnson lives with his wife Stacie Johnson and together they raise their three children Owen, Ethan and Braedyn. He began his career as a public school teacher at Jenner Academy in Cabrini-Green and later taught at Westinghouse College Prep on the West Side of Chicago. Due to this, Johnson experienced firsthand how school closures, unemployment and gun violence impact students and their communities. According to Johnson’s campaign, Brandon for Chicago, Johnson became an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union and lead to multi-racial coalitions to achieve a better learning environment. 

Johnson was elected in 2018 as the commissioner of the first District of Cook County. As the commissioner, he worked to eliminate the gang database, secure legal representation for immigrants, recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, convened a statewide “Save Our Seniors” and organized the Cook County Board to commit to the “Budget for Black Lives.” The budget brought new investments in health care, public transportation, internet access and affordable housing. 

As mayor Johnson plans to address the crime in the city. The topic, crime in Chicago, dominated the majority of the election. According to the Chicago Suntimes, a survey shows 44% of Chicago residents think crime and public safety is the most important issue, followed by 13% of residents who think criminal justice reform is the most pressing issue.

According to Reuters News, the previous mayor, Lori Lightfoot, attempted re-election. However, the people believed her handling of crime and series of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, should have been better. Johnson’s opponent, Paul Vallas, believed the solution is more police officers; Johnson suggested more mental health support and opportunities for young people. 

Johnson plans to focus on the community, making sure public schools are fully funded, affordable housing, green jobs and access to mental health care. In contrast to Vallas, Johnson believes by providing job opportunities and help for the young people in the community it will keep them off the streets and make it less likely for people to commit crimes. Johnson said he stands for the people, not entrenched special interests and political insiders.