Brandon Johnson elected Chicago mayor


Illustration by Lily Ogburn

The Chicago mayoral runoff between Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson occurred Tuesday following the nine-person general election Feb. 28.

Kaavya Butaney, Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Cook County Board Commissioner for the 1st District Brandon Johnson won the Chicago mayoral runoff at 51.42% of the vote with 99% of precincts reporting Tuesday night, with former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas trailing at 48.58%.

The election was predicted to be tight. A poll conducted by political consulting firm Victory Research, forecasted Vallas to receive 49.6% of the vote and Johnson with 45.4%.

“To the Chicagoans who did not vote for me, here’s what I want you to know: that I care about you, I value you and I want to hear from you,” Johnson said in his victory speech. “I want to work with you. And I’ll be the mayor for you, too.”

Before a couple of months ago, Johnson was not a well-known name in Chicago but he emerged as one of the two top candidates in the general election.

His win comes after incumbent Lori Lightfoot came in third in February’s general election, with 16.81% of the vote. Vallas and Johnson proceeded to the runoff with 32.90% and 21.63% of the vote, respectively.

Johnson positioned himself as ideologically left of Lightfoot and has a history as an organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union.

In 2022, before Johnson had announced his mayoral campaign, CTU had already endorsed him.

“Tonight is a gateway to a new future for this city,” Johnson said.

He said he plans on conducting an “efficiency review” to see where city government spending is higher than necessary. He also advocated for higher business taxes on large, Chicago-based companies.

Vallas also ran for Chicago mayor in the 2019 election, finishing ninth, and for Illinois governor in 2002 and lieutenant governor in 2014. In this election, he was the only white candidate.

Vallas, a moderate Democrat, prioritized tough-on-crime messaging during his campaign after increased homicide and property crime for the last four years.

“I’m honored and humbled by all of your support … it is clear, based on the result tonight, that the city is deeply divided,” Vallas said in his speech.

Vallas was CEO of CPS from 1995 to 2001, the first public school district CEO.

After Johnson’s victory was projected, Vallas gave Johnson his full support for the transition.

“It’s time for all Chicagoans to put aside their differences … better, brighter days are on the horizon,” Vallas said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Brandon Johnson’s history as an organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @kaavya_butaney

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