April 4, 2023

Chicago Mayoral Election

“Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson face off in the city’s runoff election for mayor on Tuesday… Vallas has positioned himself as a moderate and has the backing of the Chicago police union and major business groups. Johnson is a former teacher and union organizer backed by the Chicago Teachers Union.” AP News

Here’s our previous coverage of the election. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left criticizes Vallas and praises Johnson’s focus on alternatives to policing.

Vallas has been involved in opening at least 12 militarized charter schools around the country… [Educators in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Bridgeport] described similar practices in every district Vallas ran, including promotion of military/first-responder schools and heavy reliance on standardized testing, zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, and privately managed alternative charters with draconian rules…

“Militarized public and charter schools are ‘ways to take urban, impoverished kids and get them in the military,’ [according to a former Bridgeport school board member]… ‘You’ll never see something like that in a white, affluent neighborhood.’”

Jim Daley, Slate

“Vallas, who credits the four police officers in his family for inspiring his public-safety policies, has pledged to fill the department’s seventeen hundred vacancies. ‘He’s meeting people where they are,’ Aviva Bowen, a political strategist, told me. ‘They’re afraid.’ At the same time, he needs to draw in voters who want major reforms in a department that is currently operating under a federal consent decree and has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle complaints of brutality…

“He’s advancing a lower-key community-policing model and pledging ‘zero tolerance’ for officers who violate the law or the Constitution, while also welcoming the endorsement of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, whose leader, John Catanzara, has posted on Facebook that Muslims ‘all deserve a bullet.’…

“Kimberly Gilmore, a community organizer and a Johnson supporter, said that she simply doesn’t trust Vallas. Thai Crawford, a home-health-care worker, agreed. To her, Vallas’s approach is ‘I’m going to tell you what you want to hear, but I’m going to do what I want to do.’”

Peter Slevin, New Yorker

Meanwhile, “Johnson has embraced a public health model for public safety backed up by actual evidence… One study showed that emergency financial assistance substantially reduced total arrests—including a 51 percent reduction in arrests for violent crimes. Another showed that increasing youth employment (e.g., summer jobs programs) reduces violent crime by up to 43 percent…

“In Philadelphia, a project to repair abandoned homes was associated with a 39 percent reduction in firearm assaults… Another study found restoring vacant land in [neighborhoods below the poverty line] significantly improves local residents’ both perception of their safety and their actual physical safety. Restoration projects reduced firearm violence by 30 percent… Johnson represents a chance to finally invest in people through programs that work rather than repeating the current police model that has already repeatedly failed for over 40 years to produce safety.”

Eric Reinhart, The Nation

From the Right

The right criticizes Johnson and praises Vallas’s tough on crime approach.

The right criticizes Johnson and praises Vallas’s tough on crime approach.

“Chicago spends just under $30,000 a student annually, nearly double the state average and up from $20,000 in 2017. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, only 11% of blacks and 17% of Hispanics in Chicago public schools could read at grade level in 2021, the same year that 100% of Chicago public school teachers somehow were rated ‘excellent’ or ‘proficient.’ In 2022, 80% of 11th-graders of any race or ethnicity could not read or perform math at grade level…

“[Polling conducted by Echelon Insights for the Illinois Policy Institute found] that two-thirds of parents support school choice… ‘Public safety is the overriding issue,’ Mr. Vallas said in a speech earlier this month. ‘But we will not have true public safety in this city until the schools become part of the public-safety solution.’ Give Mr. Vallas credit for connecting the dots. He understands that people who get a decent education are less likely to become violent criminals.”

Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal

“Today, Johnson says, ‘I never said defund the police.’ Yet he has said of defunding the police, ‘I don’t look at it as a slogan, it’s an actual, real political goal.’ And ‘there is no number big enough’ for cutting the budget of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. At a 2020 panel on ‘a police-free future,’ he condemned ‘state-sponsored policing.’…

“Progressive policies — e.g., Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in 2016 essentially decriminalizing shoplifting of less than $1,000 — have demoralized the police force, which experienced a net loss of 2,641 officers between 2020 and August 2022. This year, car thefts are up 151 percent, sexual assaults and robberies up 23 percent each, and major crime reports are up 104 percent above this point in 2021.”

George F. Will, Washington Post

Chicago is in desperate need of change… And Paul Vallas is the only remaining candidate who can deliver that change… [He] believes in school choice and fiscal responsibility. He supports the police while holding them accountable for misconduct. He’s also been critical of Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx, who’s dropped more than 25,000 felony cases during her tenure, including rape and murder…

“Johnson, on the other hand, has advocated for defunding the police and has openly defended rioters and looters… Johnson’s priorities are not in line with the needs of Chicagoans, particularly black Chicagoans whose bodies will continue to litter the streets if he becomes mayor…

“Johnson, like Lightfoot before him, has attempted to make this election largely about race. And why not? Pitting black voters against Vallas, the ‘White candidate,’ is cheap and easy. But it doesn’t need to be effective. Black or white – I’m only interested in the best candidate. And I pray that most Chicagoans, of all colors, reach the same conclusion.”

Gianno Caldwell, New York Post

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