Chicago Welcomes New Leftist Mayor With Vision Of A ‘Safer And More Equitable’ City
Union organizer and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson speaks after being projected winner as mayor on April 4, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. Johnson won in a tough runoff against the more conservative Paul Vallas after the two outpolled incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot in February.
(Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

Chicago is welcoming a new Democratic mayor, leftist Brandon Johnson, marking the beginning of a new administration that will contend with a city beset by crime.

Johnson, a former union organizer and teacher, was sworn in on Monday after running a successful campaign with a stated commitment to build a “stronger, safer and more equitable” Chicago.

He defeated moderate rival and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in April to succeed the incumbent Lori Lightfoot after she was beaten in the February primary election.

Johnson managed to overcome criticism for his past support of the “defund the police” movement while touting a “holistic” approach to public safety.

That point of view will be tested as Chicago, the nation’s third-most populous city, continues to make national headlines for its violent crime. Seven people were killed and 20 others were wounded just this past weekend, according to reports.

“Too many Chicagoans fear for their safety when they walk down the street to get groceries or drive to the gas station, because our city’s homicide and violent crime rates have consistently outpaced our peer cities,” Johnson said in a tweet thread on Monday.

In that thread, Johnson also envisioned making the city “the economic marvel of our state, the Midwest, and this nation.” This, too, will present a challenge as there are significant disparities in economic opportunity from neighborhood to neighborhood, and particularly low levels of wealth among households with people of color, as shown in an Urban Institute study released in 2022.

Other priorities for the mayor, as seen listed on Johnson’s campaign website, include affordable housing, “healthcare for all,” and fully-funded schools.


The public got a taste of how Johnson will tackle public safety when he reacted to large crowds of rowdy teenagers flooding the streets of downtown Chicago last month.

Johnson said he did not “condone the destructive activity” witnessed at that time, but stressed that it “is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.”

The mayor said he is already coordinating with Fred Waller, Chicago’s new interim police superintendent, to map out ways to quell violence in the city, according to WBBM radio.

“It’s something that I’ve been focusing on throughout my entire political career,” Johnson said. “I’m raising a family in Chicago. I think about the violence that happens in the city of Chicago on a daily basis.”

Johnson faces the major task of preparing the city to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention, which is set to be held August 19-22 and attract visitors from around the country.

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