Chicago Mayor’s Race Heats Up

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readMar 28

After voting out Lori Lightfoot, will Chicago voters choose another progressive criminal justice reformer?

Photo by Joao on Unsplash.

She made history as Chicago mayor,” wrote Sara Burnett for the Associated Press on January 21, 2023. “Reelection may be harder.

As indeed it proved: The history-making Chicago Mayor, swept into office on a wave of popularity and support in 2019, became a one-term mayor last month when she lost her reelection bid.

Two challengers garnered more votes in the primary race than Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who failed to advance to the runoff election.

“The election will be an early test this year of how crime factors into mayoral races in big-city Democratic strongholds,” predicted Burnett for the Associated Press. “Other major cities electing mayors this year, including Philadelphia, are also grappling with how to balance progressive ideals with residents’ day-to-day concerns about keeping their families safe.”

This is an election in a fish bowl; the eyes of every political analyst in the nation will be on Chicago this week. Lightfoot’s most successful challengers — Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson — are offering two very different visions for Chicago. The two candidates differ widely on issues from education to crime.

They are also diametrically opposed. Or, rather, the two candidates are as diametrically opposed as two members of the same political party can be.

Democrat Paul Vallas is more conservative than Lori Lightfoot; Democrat Brandon Johnson is more progressive. During his career, Paul Vallas has served as CEO of the Chicago Public School system; Brandon Johnson has spent his career organizing for the Chicago Teachers Union.

“Chicago is in the midst of a high-stakes runoff election that will decide who will lead the Second City as its next mayor,” began Maximillian Alvarez for In These Times on March 23.

Alvarez sat down with candidate Brandon Johnson on March 17 to discuss the latter’s vision for the Windy City.

“In a stunning first round of voting last month, incumbent mayor Lori Lightfoot was knocked out of the race,” wrote Alvarez in introduction. “As a result, the race pits Paul Vallas, a conservative Democrat and former CEO of Chicago…