Chicago Mayoral Election: Chicagoans Vote With Crime on Their Minds
CHICAGO—Brandon Johnson, a Cook County Board commissioner with strong support from the Chicago Teachers Union, pulled off an upset victory over former schools chief Paul Vallas to become mayor of America’s third-largest city. country after a controversial race focused on public safety.
Mr Vallas had been ahead in recent polls and came out on top in the initial round of voting in February. Mr. Johnson had come in second, defeating Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who came third and did not make a runoff.
The two runoff candidates outlined starkly different visions of how to restore public safety in a city where crime soared during the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. past, other crime rates continued to rise, scuttling Ms Lightfoot’s re-election campaign.
Mr Johnson, who in addition to backing from the teachers union had support from other public sector unions, wants to hire or promote 200 detectives and focus on addressing the root causes of crime. Mr Vallas, who was backed by police and fire unions and the business community, pledged to fill more than 1,000 police vacancies to get more officers on the streets.
Voters line up at Robert Healy Elementary School in Chicago on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
Christopher Sanders, a 38-year-old project manager in technology, voted for Mr. Johnson on Tuesday at a Lincoln Park school. “I don’t think we need more police,” he said. “We already have the budget in place – we have what we need. I just think we need to train them better as opposed to bringing in a whole new batch of police, as that will solve the problem.”
Erwin Aulis, 64, who retired after 30 years in private real estate and lives near the school, said he supported Mr. Vallas because of his experience in running schools and managing budgets. “It’s about crime, it’s about schools and it’s about fiscal responsibility,” he said. “We have some pretty big unfunded pension liabilities and hopefully he will try to address those.”
An independent poll released Sunday by Chicago-based Victory Research showed Mr. Vallas widening a two-point lead last month to four points, with voters split 49.6% to 45.4% and 5% undecided. The poll of 900 likely Chicago runoff voters has a margin of error of 3.27%, Victory Research said.
“I think Vallas has separated himself a little bit, but not enough where he can sit back and watch everything,” said Jaime Dominguez, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University.
Christopher Sanders, who voted for Brandon Johnson, said he would like to see better training for existing police. Photo: Joe Barrett/The Wall Street Journal
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, a total of 476,358 votes had been cast, or about 30% of total registered voters, including 292,591 early or mail-in ballots.
In the first round of voting in February, the total turnout was nearly 36%.
Postal ballots can be counted up to 14 days after the election.
Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images
Mr. Dominguez commissioned a poll released last week by the Northwestern Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy and a nonprofit Black and Latino coalition that showed a virtual dead heat, with 44% for each candidate and 12% undecided. Half of registered voters called crime an important concern, making it a top issue in the campaign. BSP Research, which conducted the poll, interviewed 1,500 Chicagoans, Northwestern said. The margin of error was 2.8%.
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It appeared in the April 5, 2023 print edition as “Chicago Mayoral Hopes Tie Neck in Poll”.