1 year under Mayor Brandon Johnson yields a more expensive, more violent Chicago

May 15, 2024

New polling from the Illinois Policy Institute shows Johnson’s favorability is sitting at just 27%


CONTACT: Micky Horstman (312) 607-4977

1 year under Mayor Brandon Johnson yields a more expensive, more violent Chicago
New polling from the Illinois Policy Institute shows Johnson’s favorability is sitting at just 27%

CHICAGO (May 15, 2024) – One year into his administration and Mayor Brandon Johnson remains the least-popular incoming mayor in city history, with a 27% favorability rating according to new polling from the Illinois Policy Institute.

Johnson’s unpopularity comes as he’s kept his campaign promises on policies related to migrants, education and business. He has also been in lock step with the Chicago Teachers Union, his former employer, during his tenure.

Highlights from Johnson’s first year in office: 


  • Eliminated 833 police positions. The city will have 1,600 fewer officers than it did at the start of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration.
  • Removed police from schools. Despite pleas from school principals, Chicago Public Schools voted to remove police resource officers from all campuses.
  • Saw rising crime rates. Victims of robbery and motor vehicle thefts hit decade highs last year, and instances of assault and fatal and nonfatal shootings still remain above pre-pandemic levels.

Fiscal responsibility: 

  • Restarted guaranteed income program. Johnson allocated over $32 million in federal aid towards restarting a guaranteed income program that aids just 5,000 households.
  • Pledged $1.5 billion in tax dollars for new stadium. Despite campaign promises, Johnson agreed to contribute taxpayer dollars towards building a domed stadium for the Chicago Bears.


  • Broke his promise for an elected school board. On the campaign trail Johnson and the CTU called for a fully elected, 20 member Chicago school board. Once elected, Johnson backpedaled: proposing and passing a plan for 10 elected seats.
  • Switched the school funding formula. Johnson’s new funding formula allows the district to keep near-empty schools open and fully staffed without making changes to address dwindling enrollment.

Economic climate: 

  • Eliminated subminimum wage. Johnson eliminated the subminimum wage for tipped workers in Chicago, which will disproportionately impact small, family restaurants in the city.
  • Doubled family leave requirements. Johnson's unfunded mandate leaves small businesses financially responsible for extended leave without the resources to pay for it.
  • Failed to reduce vacancy rates. Instead of attracting new businesses to fill record-high office vacancies, Johnson proposed $150 million to convert office buildings in the Loop into just 319 “affordable” units costing $470,000 each.
  • Attempted to raise the real estate transfer tax. Johnson got his $100 million “Bring Chicago Home” initiative onto the ballot, as promised, but voters rejected it.

“Johnson’s unpopularity persists. In his short time as mayor, he’s moved to make Chicago more expensive and less safe for residents. When given the opportunity to reject his platform, they do. Without the control measures of the city council or the electorate, Johnson is able to enact his destructive policies. Johnson can do more damage in the upcoming CTU contract negotiations. The union is asking for billions in demands. As a former lobbyist, Johnson will be unable to remain impartial and should recuse himself from the negotiations,” said Bryce Hill, director of fiscal and economic research for the Illinois Policy Institute. 

To read more about Johnson’s first year, visit illin.is/johnson1.

For interviews or interviews, contact media@illinoispolicy.org or (312) 607-4977.