Mayor race pits school choice against more power for Chicago Teachers Union

Mayor race pits school choice against more power for Chicago Teachers Union

Former Chicago Public School CEO Paul Vallas and Chicago Teachers Union lobbyist Brandon Johnson will advance to the April 4 runoff election. Both have very different views on public safety and education.

Former Chicago Public School CEO Paul Vallas and Chicago Teachers Union lobbyist Brandon Johnson are headed to a runoff election on April 4.

Vallas, who was also Chicago’s budget director, received more than 172,000 votes, 33% of the total and the most of any candidate. Johnson, a legislative coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union and Cook County commissioner, was behind him with more than 103,000 votes, or 20% overall.

Vallas and Johnson have very different approaches to crime and school choice.

Vallas has made public safety a major theme of his campaign, calling for additional police staffing.

Johnson stirred controversy over comments he made in 2020 on a radio show about defunding the police.

“I don’t look at it as a slogan,” Johnson said. “It’s an actual real political goal.”

Crime is the No. 1 reason Chicagoans want to move out of the city, according to an Illinois Policy Institute poll. The same poll found overwhelming support for school choice

Vallas supports the idea of giving families a choice about where to send their kids to school, especially those in low-income communities. He made a point of it in his election-night speech and throughout the election.

“I’m never going to oppose opportunities to provide additional educational choices to poor families,” Vallas told Block Club Chicago.

Illinois’ only school choice effort, the Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program, is supported by 65% of Chicago voters, and 62% support school choice in general. Invest in Kids gives more than 9,000 low-income families a year the opportunity to obtain grants so their children can attend private schools that better fit their needs.

Both Johnson and the CTU have made school choice a target. They have tried killing the Invest in Kids Act and limiting charter schools in the city.

Incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot was the first Chicago mayor to lose re-election in 40 years. Before making your decision in the April 4 runoff, here are some key facts about Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson.

 Paul Vallas

Notable endorsements:

  • Chicago Fraternal Order of Police
  • Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
  • Aldermen Anthony Napolitano, Brendan Reilly, Thomas Tunney and Brian Hopkins

Notable donations received:

  • Executives at Madison Dearborn – $800,000+ (2022-23)
  • Mike Keiser (Executive at BDGR Inc.) – $700,000+ (2022-23)
  • Gerald Beeson (COO of Citadel) – $100,000 (2022)

Notable donations given:

  • Bank the Blue (Pro Police) – $1,300 (2022)
  • Brotherhood for the Fallen – $450 (2022)
  • Chicago Police Sergeant’s Association – $200 (2022)

Positions on the issues:

  • Education – Pro school choice, supports “Adult Education and Occupational Training Network.”
  • Crime – Would immediately dismiss Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, increase officer staffing by 1,800 and increase beat cop presence
  • Economy – Would create Independent Community Development Authority of community-based contractors and organizations, establish a Fair Share Investment Trust for South and West Side Chicago, reclaim and repurpose vacant and idle property, increase access for vocational programs.

Brandon Johnson

Notable endorsements:

  • Chicago Teachers Union
  • SEIU 73
  • United Working Families
  • Reps. Delia Ramirez, Jonathan Jackson
  • State Sens. Omar Aquino, Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Robert Peters
  • State Reps. Lillian Jimenez, Lakesia Collins, Will Guzzardi, Mary E. Flowers
  • Aldermen Pat Dowell, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Jeanette Taylor, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, Daniel La Spata

Notable donations received:

  • CTU PAC – $931,308 (2023)
  • AFT & IFT – $1,557,846 (2023)
  • AFSCME 31 PAC – $56,750 (2018)
  • SEIU 73B PAC – $289,323.77 (2023)

Notable donations given:

  • Friends of Lakesia Collins: $15,000 (2020)
  • 27th Ward Regular Democrat Organization – $4,000 (2018)
  • Paid Illinois State Board of Elections $17,637 in civil penalties (2022)

Positions on the issues:

  • Education – Increase funding for CPS to $1 billion/year; pro-elected school board; expand sustained community schools from pre-K to City Colleges
  • Crime – Reopen city’s mental health clinics, remove the gang database, supports Treatment not Trauma
  • Economy– Avowed Socialist, would place additional tax on non-Chicagoans, suburbs, and airlines worth $800 million

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!