Immigrants, failing faculties, and rising crime: New Chicago mayor has lengthy to-do listing

Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson hasn’t even taken the oath of workplace, however when he does on Monday, he might be accountable for America’s third-largest metropolis, which is presently underneath a state of emergency over an inflow of refugees searching for asylum which have settled there, sleeping in police stations and making a humanitarian and well being disaster the town can not assist.

He’ll even be confronted with a rampant crime downside that has pushed a number of massive companies out of the realm, in addition to a unstable financial system.


Johnson, a Democrat, defeated outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, additionally a Democrat, within the basic election after which Paul Vallas, the previous CEO of Chicago Public Colleges, in a runoff problem, incomes 51.4% of the greater than 500,000 votes forged to grow to be Chicago’s 57th mayor.

His to-do listing is already prolonged, with voters additionally involved about taxes, reasonably priced housing, financial inequality, and training. They don’t seem to be new issues, however they’re his for the subsequent 4 years as residents look to him and his administration for solutions.

It might be an uphill battle.

A latest Chicago Tribune ballot, performed in late April and early Could, revealed widespread doubt that Johnson would be capable of deal with the problems head-on and higher than his predecessors. Whereas three-quarters of the individuals who voted for him suppose he is acquired a preventing likelihood, they don’t seem to be within the majority. Most Chicagoans did not vote within the April runoff election or voted for his opponent Vallas. If they’re included within the combine, the quantity of people that suppose Johnson’s acquired what it takes drops to 35%, with 25% already holding a detrimental view of the soon-to-be mayor. Thirty-eight p.c are both impartial on Johnson or haven’t any opinion.

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Johnson can also be dealing with some powerful odds with regards to training.

Chicago public faculties have been dealing with a decline in enrollment coupled with sky-high truancy charges. Continual absenteeism rose almost 45% in 2022, based on state knowledge, which is nicely above the statewide fee of 30%. With regards to the town’s low-income college students, the speed is simply shy of fifty% lacking at the very least 10% of their education. 

Many are hoping Johnson’s being a academics union organizer, former center college trainer, and the mother or father of youngsters attending public college will make him amenable to the issues plaguing the system. His union-friendly perspective rejected most of the training concepts that had as soon as dominated Democratic politics, and on the marketing campaign path, he mentioned he was in a position to expertise firsthand “the painful affect of disinvestment on my college students and their households.”


“This private expertise, seeing youngsters endure inequity, fuels my dedication to constructing a stronger, safer, and extra equitable Chicago,” he mentioned. 

With regards to tackling crime, Johnson has already promised to be “sensible” in addition to “powerful.” 

Chicago has been struggling to manage violence for years, with security issues accounting for at the very least three massive corporations relocating and taking hundreds of jobs with them. Lightfoot, the one Chicago mayor in 40 years to lose reelection after her first time period, did not discover a repair for the town’s crime downside. Johnson raised quite a lot of eyebrows when he warned towards vilifying minors throughout a chaotic two-night “Teen Takeover” in April that led to fifteen individuals being arrested, plenty of property harm, and bodily assaults. 

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“It’s not constructive to demonize youth who’ve in any other case been starved of alternatives in their very own communities,” Johnson mentioned. “Our metropolis should work collectively to create areas for youth to assemble safely and responsibly, underneath grownup steerage and supervision, to make sure that each a part of our metropolis stays welcome for each residents and guests.”

Throughout his victory speech in April, Johnson mentioned his win signaled “a brand new chapter within the historical past” of Chicago. He has already made a couple of energy strikes, signaling a distinct strategy to a job his predecessor struggled with throughout her first time period.

In March, simply days earlier than the April 4 runoff election, 34 aldermen accepted a decision to undertake the principles the incoming Metropolis Council members would comply with, which included the enlargement of committees to twenty-eight from 19, and the appointment of the aldermen who would chair these committees with out the affect of the incoming mayor. However after Johnson received, the Metropolis Council’s unbiased reorganization had been gutted with one of many effort’s leaders, Alderman Scott Waguespack, being forged apart.

Waguespack won’t chair a committee and might be changed by Alderman Pat Dowell, a Democrat and an early backer of Johnson. Democratic Alderman Jason Ervin, who additionally endorsed Johnson, will take Dowell’s spot as chairman of the influential Finances Committee. Dowell had led the committee for 4 years underneath Lightfoot however jumped ship to Johnson in the course of the mayor’s race in February. In one other transfer that precipitated a seismic shift in Chicago politics, Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa, considered one of Johnson’s largest and most influential backers, will now head up the highly effective Zoning Committee, based on Crain’s Chicago Enterprise, which cited two sources accustomed to the plan. 

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