Vallas And Johnson Move Closer To Becoming Chicago Next Mayor As Lightfoot Falls Short- As voters rejected incumbent Lori Lightfoot for a second term on Tuesday, Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson will face off to become Chicago’s next mayor.
Vallas, a former school CEO backed by the police union, and Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, advanced to the April 4 runoff after none of the nine candidates won outright.
After vowing to address decades of corruption and backroom deals at City Hall, Lightfoot, the first Black woman, and openly gay mayor, she won her first term in 2019. Opponents accused Lightfoot of being a divisive, controversial leader and blamed her for increased crime in U.S. cities during the pandemic.
The first female mayor of Chicago, Jane Byrne, lost her Democratic primary in 1983.
Lightfoot termed being Chicago’s mayor “the privilege of a lifetime” Tuesday night to supporters.
“Regardless of tonight’s outcome, we fought the right fights and placed this city on a better path,” Lightfoot added. She encouraged mayors nationwide to be brave.
Vallas thanked Lightfoot for calling at his victory party and requested the crowd to applaud. If elected, he promised to handle public safety issues, referencing his campaign promise to fight crime.
Chicago will be safe. Vallas promised to make Chicago America’s safest. With his poor name recognition at the start of the race, Johnson said Tuesday night that he was unlikely to make the runoff.
“They didn’t know who I was a few months ago. “Now you know,” Johnson said. “Chicago, a Black woman will still be in charge,” he said, thanking his union supporters.
Mayors of large cities usually win reelection, but Lightfoot lost. It also reflects the economic downturn and violent crime increases in several U.S. communities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Public safety has been a topic in other recent elections, notably the recall of a San Francisco district attorney criticized for progressive policies. The pandemic may affect Philadelphia and Houston, whose incumbent mayors cannot run again owing to term limitations. Vallas and Johnson differ.
Vallas advised the Fraternal Order of Police on Lightfoot negotiations. He says violence is out of control, and police morale has plummeted under Lightfoot. He wants hundreds more police officers to patrol the city.
Vallas’ opponents say he’s too conservative for the Democratic stronghold. Lightfoot slammed him for supporting the police union’s controversial boss, who praised the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrectionists and compared Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate for municipal workers to the Holocaust.
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Johnson received $1 million from the Chicago Teachers Union and other progressive groups like United Working Families. The former teacher and union organizer has claimed that investing in mental health treatment, education, jobs, and affordable housing solves crime. Still, Lightfoot and others have accused him of seeking to defund the police.
Johnson has avoided the word “defund” and said he doesn’t want to cut police officers. In a 2020 radio interview, Johnson called defunding “an actual genuine political goal” and pushed a county board proposal to transfer money from enforcement and incarceration to social services.
Voters prioritized crime.
Downtowner Rita DiPietro endorsed Lightfoot in 2019. On Tuesday, she voted for Vallas because of his detailed public safety plan.
“The candidates talk about what they want to do,” she said. “He has a strategy. He has a plan.”
“He felt like the most progressive candidate on issues like policing, mental health, and public transit,” said North Side paralegal Lindsey Hegarty.
In the heavily segregated city, candidates also considered race. Vallas was the sole white candidate. Lightfoot, Johnson, and five other candidates are Black, but Lightfoot claimed she could win alone. Just Latino U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia ran.
Lightfoot accused Vallas of employing “the ultimate dog whistle” by declaring his campaign is about “taking back our city” and of indulging the racist Fraternal Organization of Police president. Vallas liked racist and anti-Lightfoot tweets, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
Vallas claims his police union endorsement is from rank-and-file cops. He also claimed someone had hacked his account and liked the “abhorrent” tweets.
Lightfoot praised her record of investing in neighborhoods and supporting workers, including raising the minimum wage to $15. She also stated that the city had overcome enormous problems, including the pandemic and its economic and public safety ramifications to police protests.
Lightfoot replied, “I’m a black woman in America. Yes.”
Vallas lost a 2019 mayoral bid. He focused on public safety this time, saying police officers who left under Lightfoot will return if he’s elected.
Willie Wilson, Sophia King, Roderick Sawyer, Ja’Mal Green, and Kambium “Kam” Buckner were the other candidates.