Late Tuesday night, the race to determine who would govern America’s third-largest city finally concluded with a victory for Brandon Johnson and progressive Democrats.
As New York Times reports, “Johnson’s victory over Paul Vallas, a fellow Democrat with far more conservative views on crime and education, revealed voters rejecting the tough-on-crime politics that have become a staple of municipal elections in recent years.”
During his campaign, Johnson called for massively expanded social programs, new taxes, and improved public safety by way of mental health treatment and youth employment programs, versus his opponent Vallas, whose messaging aligned with being tough no crime and expanding the city’s police force.
At one point in an early poll for the election, numbers showed that only 3 percent of voters supported Johnson’s campaign. Overcoming enormous odds, Johnson advanced to the runoff election, and despite the fact that early on Vallas was leading, as the night went on, the tide shifted in favor of Johnson.
By the time the race was officially called, Vallas was lagging behind Johnson “by more than 16,000 votes, a gap that has continued to widen and is expected to grow as mail-in ballots continue to be counted.”
In a stunning upset, the former union organizer and county commissioner who was relatively unknown to voters a few months ago, is the epitome of The Jefferson’s theme song, “Movin’ on up” as this victory catapults him from obscurity to the 5th floor of City Hall when he assumes his role in office in May.
During his acceptance speech, Johnson said, “We have ushered in a new chapter in the history of our city,” adding, “Now Chicago will begin to work for its people, all the people,” and concluded by noting that this is the time to “celebrate the revival and the resurrection of the City of Chicago.”
Stacy Davis, president of the teachers’ union, stated “Chicago has said yes to hope, yes to investment in people, yes to housing the unhoused and yes to supporting young people with fully funded schools…It is a new day in our city.”
After the results were announced, Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s outgoing mayor put out a statement, “I congratulate Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson on his hard-fought runoff victory this evening. It is time for all of us as Chicagoans, regardless of our zip code or neighborhood, our race or ethnicity, the creator we worship, or who we love, to come together and recommit ourselves to uniting around our shared present and future.”
Illinois governor JB Pritzker also released a statement of congratulations to the newly elected mayor, “I’d like to congratulate Mayor-elect Johnson on his victory. I am committed to a productive partnership that advances our shared priority of making Chicago an even better place to live, work, do business, and raise a family.”
According to the Chicago Board of Elections, by the time the polls closed, “503,382 total ballots were cast, putting turnout at 33.2% of a total of 1,592,894 registered voters.”