Chicago, IL

Race Playing an Increasingly Crucial Role in the Chicago Mayoral Election Between Johnson and Vallas

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

With just days to go before the final vote for Chicago mayor, Vallas's support comes largely from white ethnic areas and residents on the northwest side, while momentum in the Chicago's black community is building momentum behind Johnson
Chicagoans will return to the polls April 4th to decide who will be mayor in a contest that is becoming increasingly about racePhoto byPhil Roeder/flickr [CC BY 2.0}

The Chicago Mayoral runoff election between Vallas and Johnson in 2023 has seen race emerge as a key issue in the final days of the campaign. The two candidates are vying for the support of black and Latino voters in the city, who make up a significant portion of the electorate.

Brandon Johnson, an African American progressive, has focused on issues that are important to the black community in Chicago, such as police reform, affordable housing, and economic development in underserved areas. He has also been endorsed by several prominent black and hispanic leaders in the city including Rev. Jesse Jackson, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Ald. Jeanette Taylor and U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Jesús Garcia.

On the other hand, Paul Vallas a white moderate, and has been criticized for not doing enough to address the concerns of minority communities. Some voters have accused him of being out of touch with the needs of black and Latino residents in Chicago. At the same time, however, he has also received the endorsement of several black and hispanic leaders including former secretary of state Jesse White, former U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, Ald. Walter Burnett, retiring Ald. Roderick Sawyer, who came in last in and community activist Ja’Mal Green.

One of the main issues at stake in the election is the issue of police reform and racial justice. Chicago has a troubled history with police brutality, particularly against black and Latino communities. Both candidates have promised to address this issue, but their approaches differ.

Vallas supports increasing the number of police officers on CTA platforms and subway trains, and having more officers on the streets in general. Johnson does not agree with this system of considers community policing, pointing out it only seems to applicable to Black and brown communities. While Johnson has stated that he would promote 200 officers, he also said that he doesn't believe that more police will ultimately solve the problem. His focus promotes handling the root causes of violence for example by investmenting more and increasing resources in impoverished neighborhoods.

Yet many black and Latino voters in the city have expressed frustration with the election, arguing that neither candidate fully represents their interests.

Overall, the role race is playing in the final days of the Chicago Mayoral runoff election seems to be growing with both candidates vying for the support of black and Latino voters in the city, who are looking for a candidate who will prioritize police reform and racial justice. The election outcome will depend on how successfully each candidate can appeal to these voters and address their concerns.

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Chicago, IL

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