Can he deliver?
“Brandon Johnson sworn in as Chicago mayor,” wrote Alice Yin and Gregory Pratt for the Chicago Tribune on May 15, 2023.
Mr. Johnson, who recently overcame the odds to defeat incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, celebrated his victory with a “rousing” inaugural speech promising “brighter days are ahead of us.”
“I am truly humbled and honored to stand before you as the 57th Mayor of the greatest city in the world,” Chicago’s newest mayor began. “And I truly believe that it’s not just the incredible beauty of our city.”
“As you look out over Lake Michigan, it’s not just the outstanding food from pizza to Italian beef to the vegetarian tacos,” Mayor Johnson waxed poetic. “It’s not just our art and music that pushes boundaries and redefines genres.”
“I believe what truly makes us great is our people,” said the Mayor. “And not just the names that show up in our history books, but the ones that show up in our schools, on the beat, at the worksite, at the concert hall. And of course, in the boardrooms and of course at the respite center looking out for strangers in need.”
“Now, we won’t always agree, but I won’t ever question your motives or your commitment,” the Mayor promised his fellow elected officials and city leaders. “The people of Chicago are counting on us to work together, collaborate, to make their lives better every day.”
“I’ve learned my core values of hard work and accountability and love that formed the foundation of my approach to public service,” the Mayor told the assembled crowd. “And now I stand before you today as the new mayor of the nation’s third largest city, a place where it’s a hope and to have opportunity.”
“There is something special about this city,” he went on. “I like to call it the “Soul of Chicago”.
“It’s the soul of Chicago that brought immigrants from all over the world to work, to organize, to build the first skyscraper, to flee the persecution in one country and create an entire industry in another country, including one of the largest hospitality companies in the world,” said Johnson.
“We have a structural deficit and we have to invest in people,” the Mayor insisted. “And we have to do without breaking the backs of working people.”
“What fines, fees, and property taxes?” the Mayor asked, referring to critics on the campaign trail who made much of Johnson’s outstanding debts. “You can’t make people feel bad because they have a payment plan.”
“You can’t stop someone with a payment plan from becoming mayor of the city of Chicago,” the Mayor quipped. “Oh, my help is coming this morning.”
“But too many Chicagoans, though, fear for their safety,” Mayor Johnson admitted. “And when they walk down the streets to get groceries or drive to the gas station, because our city’s homicide and violent crime rates have consistently outpaced our peer cities, our public transit is unreliable and unsafe.”
“Rent in Chicago continues to go up year after year after year, while the development of both the Affordable and market-rate housing stagnates,” he said. “And as a result, too many in our city go to sleep unhoused and too few families know the security of owning their own home.”
Johnson has big plans on how to fix these problems.
“I’m talking about the soul of Chicago,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said. “Whether you live in Jefferson Park or Morgan Park or McKinley Park or Gage Park or Humbolt Park.”
“I’m talking about a revival in the City of Chicago, where the soul of Chicago comes alive,” said the Mayor. “A brand new Chicago is in front of us. I can’t wait to continue to lead this city towards a future that generations to come will look back and see the soul of Chicago that has made it possible for posterity.”
Mayor Johnson had the full-throated support of the Chicago Teachers Union during the recent race, but not everyone is a fan. Johnson has a long history with the city’s most powerful union and comes to the chief city executive office from the CTU.
Opposing him, Chicago’s newest mayor had the Chicago Police Department and Fraternal Order of Police — along with the Chicago Tribune.
“In the runoff, the Tribune Editorial Board endorses Paul Vallas,” announced the Tribune on March 17, 2023.
With the ink barely dry on his inaugural speech, the Chicago Tribune is already raising the alarm about Mayor Johnson’s administration, and it hasn’t even been built yet.
“On Brandon Johnson’s first day, he puts out a disastrous job description for deputy mayor,” fumed the outlet on May 17, 2023.
The job description: “The Deputy Mayor for Labor Relations is responsible for working with all City agencies and departments to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of Chicago; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights, including working with relevant authorities to help enforce workers’ statutory rights.”
The Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune’s take: “That’s a gift-wrapped present for the CTU, which probably had a big hand in its composition. It says nothing whatsoever about any obligation to protect taxpayers, homeowners, businesses or, frankly, even the democratic process. It basically says: Do what unionized workers want, find more ways to give them more of what they want, and your annual review will be just dandy.”
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)