Brandon Johnson is now Chicago’s third elected Black mayor in the history of the city. Johnson will be the 57th person to hold this position at a time where Chicago finds itself dealing with high crime rates, vacancies on the Magnificent Mile and disinvestment in Black communities. Johnson’s election comes 40 years after the election of Chicago’s first Black mayor Harold Washington.
Johnson a former Chicago Public School teacher and Cook County commissioner ran as a progressive and built a grass roots following with the support of the Chicago Teachers Union. It was an extremely close race as Johnson defeated his opponent Paul Vallas by a margin of one percent.
Johnson’s campaign focused on investing in the people of Chicago. “Tonight is the beginning of a Chicago that truly invests in all of it’s people. Now you’ve heard me say this before Chicago and I’m going to keep saying it because the heart of this movement has always been about investing in people. I’ll be honest, this is personal for me. Investing in people is at the heart of this campaign because I’ve seen what disinvestment looks like.” said Johnson during his acceptance speech.
Many of Chicago’s notable Black politicians and clergy surprisingly endorsed Johnson’s opponent Paul Vallas. Former Black Panther and politician Bobby Rush along with activist Ja’Mal Green joined the podium with Vallas as he delivered his concession speech.
Johnson’s win comes on the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King who was assassinated 55 years ago. Johnson characterized his win as the realization of Dr. Kings dream. “We all know, it’s very clear that one bullet can’t kill a dream.” Johnson continued. “Today we did not just commemorate the life and the legacy of one of the greatest humanitarians who ever walked the planet earth. Today we did not just acknowledge the assassination of s dreamer. Today the dream is alive. Today we celebrate the revival and the resurrection of the city of Chicago.”
Voter turnout was low however according to the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners. Turnout among the younger demographic increased during the runoff in comparison to the general election held in February.
Younger voters cast a greater number of ballots in Chicago's runoff election compared to the February municipal.
Meanwhile, the three oldest age groups (55-64, 65-74 & 75+) all saw lower turnout. pic.twitter.com/bfuv8PbNEb
— Claire Malon (@ClaireMalon) April 5, 2023
Former mayor of Chicago took to twitter to congratulate Johnson.
Congratulations to Brandon Johnson on being elected the 57th mayor of Chicago. It's a job of a lifetime, Brandon. Your success is the Second City’s success—and I am rooting for your success.
— Rahm Emanuel (@RahmEmanuel) April 5, 2023
This election will serve as a significant shift in the political landscape of Chicago as a new crop of leaders are taking charge with Johnson leading the way. The first city council meeting will be one to watch attentively.