Brandon Johnson, a Progressive, Wins Chicago Mayoral Runoff, Beating Moderate Paul Vallas

Brandon Johnson, a Progressive, Wins Chicago Mayoral Runoff, Beating Moderate Paul Vallas
Chicago mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson leaves after campaigning at Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen during the mayoral runoff election at Robert Healy Elementary School in Chicago, Ill., on April 4, 2023. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Jackson Richman
CHICAGO, Ill.—Brandon Johnson, a progressive Democrat, was elected the 57th mayor of Chicago on April 4, according to The Associated Press.

Johnson, 47, defeated Paul Vallas, a 69-year-old moderate Democrat. He will succeed Democrat Lori Lightfoot, who lost in the Feb. 28 primary following years of coming under fire on issues ranging from COVID-19 to public safety.

Ahead of the results, Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, told The Epoch Times that “this election will determine whether we continue in a progressive direction or revert to the conservative status quo.”

Two of the biggest issues in the election were education and public safety.

Johnson ran on a staunchly pro-public school platform as he was endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, while Vallas ran on a pro-school choice agenda.

Johnson will enter city hall with an underwhelming public school system in the Windy City.

The high school graduation rate in Chicago is just 78.4 percent as students have struggled to demonstrate proficiency in mathematics and reading. At the elementary school level, the test score proficiency in math is 21 percent, and 25 percent in reading. At the middle school level, the test score proficiency in math is 21 percent, and 24 percent in reading. At the high school level, the test score proficiency in math is 23 percent, and 21 percent in reading.

Johnson expressed opposition to cutting city funding to schools.

In terms of fighting crime, Johnson came under fire, including from Vallas, for his past support of the “Defund the Police” movement, which he in 2020 called an “actual, real political goal.” Johnson sought to distance himself from that cause.

Johnson told Laura Washington, a political analyst for ABC’s Chicago affiliate, in March that he “said it was a political goal. I never said it was mine.”

“As far as my vision for public safety, I’m not going to defund the police,” he said.

On his campaign website, Johnson vowed he would “work with police and first responders to invest in community-based interventions that de-escalate conflict, reduce violence and make our neighborhoods safer” and “create an Office of Community Safety, reopen the city’s mental health clinics, fully fund year-round youth employment, and foster partnerships between communities and law enforcement to make critical investments preventing crime before it happens.”

He also pledged to “direct more funds to violence prevention and community safety programming that address the root causes of community violence” and “attack these root causes of crime and poverty by investing in the basics: good schools, good jobs, housing and mental health.”

Despite running as a progressive, Johnson vowed to be a mayor for all Chicagoans.

Just before entering his vehicle after casting his early-morning ballot, Johnson told The Epoch Times, “I expect to lead the city of Chicago for everyone.”

Jackson Richman is a Washington correspondent for The Epoch Times. In addition to Washington politics, he covers the intersection of politics and sports/sports and culture. He previously was a writer at Mediaite and Washington correspondent at Jewish News Syndicate. His writing has also appeared in The Washington Examiner. He is an alum of George Washington University.
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