Brandon Johnson Defeats Paul Vallas in Chicago Mayoral Runoff Election

Voters have chosen Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to be the next mayor of Chicago. He defeated former Chicago Public School CEO Paul Vallas in a tightly contested runoff election.

Voters have chosen Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to be the next mayor of Chicago. He defeated former Chicago Public School CEO Paul Vallas in a tightly contested runoff election.

Johnson emerged as the victor after receiving 51.4% of votes cast, totalling 286,647 votes compared to Vallas’ vote share of 48.6%, totalling 270,775 votes, according to the Chicago Board of Elections

Johnson and Vallas both advanced to the runoff following the general municipal election Feb. 28, which saw the defeat of incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, The Phoenix previously reported

Vallas finished in first place during the first round of voting, receiving 32.9%, totaling 185,743 votes. Johnson, meanwhile, came second, receiving 21.6%, totaling 122,093 votes while Lightfoot failed to advance to the runoff after receiving just 16.81% of votes cast — just 94,890 votes.

The mood at the Johnson Election Night Party was lively and jubilant. Supporters were dancing and cheering as results came in showing Johnson ahead. Around 10:30 p.m. Johnson delivered his victory speech, thanking his supporters and speaking about what his victory meant. 

“Tonight is proof that by building a multi-cultural, multi-traditional movement, we can bring together everyone,” Johnson said. “No matter if you live in the North side, the South side, the Southeast, the Southwest, the South or West side, we have demonstrated we can change the world.” 

Johnson also connected his victory to the greater progressive movement which has emerged in Chicago in recent years by invoking the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

“It was right here in the City of Chicago where Martin Luther King Jr. organized for justice, dreaming that one day the civil rights movement and the labor rights movement would come together,” Johnson said. “Well, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. — the civil rights movement and the labor rights movement has finally collided.” 

JoAnne Willis, a Johnson supporter who attended the event, said she was excited and relieved by the results. She said she started supporting Johnson after his answer regarding public safety during one of the mayoral debates. 

“When they asked the question about crime, almost all of the candidates said throw more money at the police and he didn’t,” Willis said. “That got my attention. I was like, ‘Brandon is the only one who said the right thing of all the candidates, and I was on board since that day.” 

Meanwhile, Vallas thanked supporters during his concession speech and spoke about the need to bring the city together, despite his defeat. 

“Even though, of course, we believe every vote should be counted, I called Brandon Johnson and told him that I absolutely expect him to be the next mayor of Chicago,” Vallas said. “This campaign which I ran to bring the city together would not be a campaign that fulfills my ambitions if this election is going to divide us more.” 

Vallas also spoke about public safety and the issues that unite Chicago residents. 

“The only pathway forward in our great city is together,” Vallas said. “Whether it’s quality schools, affordable or equitable economic development, the solutions we adopt and implement must work for all Chicagoans.”

One Vallas supporter, Richard Streetman, said he was disappointed by the result. Streetman said originally he had supported Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia for mayor and later made the choice to support Vallas in the runoff.  

“I had to choose between the moderate candidate and the most progressive candidate,” Streetman said. “I made a hard choice, but now we have a winner. And as any good Chicagoan, I hope he doesn’t mess it up, because I live in this city. But I am disappointed.” 

Speeches at both rallies started on a somber note as a moment of silence was held to honor Chicago Firefighter Jermaine Pelt who died in the line of duty battling a house fire early April 4, Block Club Chicago reported. Vallas also honored the daughter of former mayoral candidate Chuy Garcia who passed away that morning. 

Johnson was able to build upon his success in the first round of voting by winning over a large percentage of voters on the city’s south side who previously supported Lightfoot.

Support for Johnson was high within the 48th and 49th wards, where Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus is located. In the 49th Ward, Johnson received 72.86% of the vote, totaling 7,818. He won all 17 of the ward’s precincts. In the 48th Ward, Johnson received 62.19%, totalling 10,050 votes and winning 28 of 35 precincts, according to the Chicago Board of Elections.

Johnson also received the support of 49th Ward Alderperson Maria Hadden who endorsed Johnson for mayor prior to the general election while 48th Alderpson-elect Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth received Johnson’s support for her campaign. 

City-wide, Johnson won 29 of 50 Wards. His largest margin of victory came in the west side neighborhood of North Lawndale in the 24th ward where he won with 84.18% percent of the vote. Meanwhile Vallas saw the strongest support in the 41st Ward, home to O’Hare International Airport, where he received 87.33% of the vote, according to the Board of Elections. 

Other areas of support for Vallas included Bridgeport, located in the 11th Ward with 75.35% of the vote; Lakefront, located in the 2nd Ward with 74.44% of the vote; and Lincoln Park, located in the 43rd Ward with 68.75% of the vote, according to the Board of Elections .

Johnson will assume his new role as mayor May 15 when he will move into his new office on the fifth floor of city hall. He will find himself at the helm of a municipal government which will include several new faces. 

Featured image by Hunter Minne | The Phoenix

Share the post