After a hotly contested political battle, Brandon Johnson will be the next mayor of Chicago, Politico reports. He will succeed former Mayor Lori Lightfoot who lost her reelection bid in the primary in February.
Johnson defeated Paul Vallas, a former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and a moderate who deployed a “tough on crime” message. He was endorsed by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police and made promises to expand the Chicago Police Department to address the city's growing crime problem.
In his concession speech, Vallas said to reporters, “It’s clear based on the results tonight that the city is deeply divided.”
Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, proud member of the Chicago Teachers Union and a progressive activist, was in fifth place before making an incredible comeback to overtake Vallas’ 11-point lead back in February.
In his victory speech, Johnson addressed his supporters in downtown Chicago on Tuesday.
“Today, we celebrate the revival and the resurrection of the city of Chicago,” he said. “It is time for Chicago to come alive. Come alive, Chicago.”
He also addressed all the Chicagoans who didn’t vote for him.
“To the Chicagoans who did not vote for me,” he said. “I care about you, I value you and I want to hear from you. I want to work with you. And I’ll be the mayor for you too.”
“Let’s take this bold progressive movement around these United States of America. Chicago, we can show the country, we can show the world what’s possible when we stand on our values,” he added. “We don’t have to choose between toughness and compassion, between the care of our neighbors and keeping our people safe. If tonight is proof of anything, it is proof that those old false choices do not serve this city longer.”
Throughout the campaign, Johnson was supported by the powerful Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union although he was outspent by Vallas on TV and local radio. He was targeted by his opponent for saying that defunding the police was “an actual political goal” before walking the statement back.
Despite the challenges that Chicago faces, Stacy Davis Gates, president of the teachers union, believes that Johnson’s election is the start of a new era for the city.
“Chicago has said yes to hope, yes to investment in people, yes to housing the unhoused, and yes to supporting young people with fully funding schools,” Gates said.“It is a new day in our city.”