CHICAGO, IL – Progressive candidate Brandon Johnson is projected to be the next mayor of Chicago, according to The Associated Press. Johnson won the runoff election against centrist Paul Vallas, who campaigned as a tough-on-crime candidate. The election comes as Chicago is still grappling with higher levels of crime compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson, a former teacher and Chicago Teachers Union organizer, advocated for doubling youth employment in the city to more than 60,000 summer jobs and creating an Office of Community Safety. He also spoke about promoting and hiring 200 more police detectives but had to defend his previous support for the “defund the police” movement. During the race, he clarified that he would not defund the police.
Meanwhile, Vallas had to defend his personal politics as Johnson and Lori Lightfoot, the current mayor, painted him as a Republican in disguise. Vallas has argued that he has been a “lifelong Democrat” and previously ran as a Democrat in past elections. He was targeted for his endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police, whose president is a supporter of former President Trump.
The initial February election included Lightfoot and eight other candidates. Vallas placed first, followed by Johnson, which led to the runoff election. The issue of crime and public safety was a top concern for Chicago voters, with Vallas calling for an increase in police officer staffing and more police presence on Chicago transit.
Johnson’s win marks a significant shift in Chicago’s political landscape and highlights the changing views on policing in the wake of the George Floyd murder.