The Chicago Journal

Brandon Johnson’s First 100 Days as Mayor: A Concerning Direction for Chicago

Brandon Johnson
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100 Days of Brandon Johnson:

Brandon Johnson, the newly elected mayor of Chicago, has completed his first 100 days in office. However, his actions and statements during this period have raised significant concerns about the future of the Windy City. In this analysis, we will delve into various aspects of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s tenure, from his close ties to the Chicago Teachers Union to his approach to crime and fiscal responsibility.

Read also: Allegations of Misconduct and Ethical Violations Against Chicago City Treasurer Unveiled

1. The Influence of the Chicago Teachers Union:

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s ascent to power was largely facilitated by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). He wasted no time in repaying this support by appointing a former CTU chief of staff as his deputy mayor of Education, Youth, and Human Services. Furthermore, the unilateral extension of parental leave to 12 weeks, a move favoring the CTU, raised questions about his commitment to effective negotiations.

2. Education Policy and Special Interests:

Brandon Johnson’s actions, such as the dismissal of the city’s health commissioner, Allison Arwady, suggest a willingness to serve special interests at the expense of Chicago’s children. His stance on school closures and his vague response to questions about addressing crime demonstrate a concerning approach to education policy that prioritizes political interests over the well-being of the community.

3. Crime Control and Public Safety:

While some crime statistics in Chicago have shown slight improvements, the rise in robberies and a troubling trend of carjacking in wealthier neighborhoods indicate ongoing public safety challenges. Brandon Johnson’s failure to address this issue and reevaluate the policy on police pursuit raises concerns about his commitment to ensuring the safety of the city’s residents.

4. Taxation and Fiscal Responsibility:

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s promise to raise taxes has materialized with the proposal of a “mansion tax” that could significantly burden property owners. The potential impact on commercial property values, already affected by crime and the pandemic, raises questions about the city’s economic stability.

5. Lack of Fiscal Restraint and Economic Growth:

Johnson’s prioritization of spending on programs to end homelessness, while neglecting economic growth and fiscal restraint, poses a long-term risk to the city’s financial health. The failure to address government-worker pension shortfalls and Chicago’s junk bond status is a critical concern.

6. A Glimmer of Hope:

Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker may provide some short-term hope for Chicago, as he recognizes the importance of stabilizing the city for his presidential ambitions. However, the future still appears uncertain as Mayor Brandon Johnson continues to chart a concerning course for Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson Takes Office:

In May, Chicago’s new Mayor, Brandon Johnson, officially assumed office, marking the beginning of his first term as the city’s leader. In his inaugural address, the 47-year-old mayor called for unity among Chicagoans, emphasizing the importance of addressing the city’s challenges collectively and creating a more inclusive and prosperous Chicago for all.

Challenges on the Horizon:

Mayor Johnson’s entrance into office came with a set of immediate challenges that demanded his attention. These included managing an influx of migrants in need of shelter, building support from skeptical business leaders, and addressing the historically higher rates of violent crime that tend to surge during the summer months.

A Test of Leadership:

As the leader of the nation’s third-largest city, Mayor Johnson faced a crucial test of his leadership abilities. His background as a former union organizer would be put to the test as he worked to translate his proposals into actionable solutions for persistent issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges encompassed areas such as public safety, economic growth, and housing affordability.

A Vision for Chicago’s Future:

During his inauguration speech, Mayor Johnson shared his vision for Chicago’s future. He expressed his commitment to making Chicago an economic powerhouse not only in the state but also in the Midwest and the entire nation. He emphasized the importance of redirecting the streams of prosperity to areas that have suffered from disinvestment, ensuring that no one in Chicago goes without the essentials.

An Unexpected Victory:

Mayor Johnson’s journey to the mayoral office was not a widely anticipated one. He entered the mayoral race in 2022 as a relatively unknown candidate with no prior experience in city government. However, with the support of influential unions, endorsements from senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and local progressive groups, he managed to unseat the incumbent mayor, Lori Lightfoot, in a challenging runoff election.

Building a Diverse Team:

In an effort to bridge divides and appeal to a wider audience, Mayor Johnson carefully selected his transition team. His team included individuals from Chicago corporations and philanthropic organizations, as well as leaders from organized labor and progressive groups. This diverse team aimed to bring different perspectives and expertise to the table.

Prioritizing Public Safety:

One of the paramount concerns in Chicago is public safety. Mayor Johnson recognized that his approach to this issue would significantly impact his relationship with various stakeholders, including business leaders, elected officials, progressive activists, and residents from all corners of the city. His strategy for enhancing safety involved a focus on mental health care, violence prevention programs, and police accountability.

A Long Road Ahead:

While Mayor Johnson aspired to make Chicago safer for all its residents, he acknowledged the challenges of this endeavor. Achieving lasting change in the city would take time and cooperation from various community groups. It was a process that required patience and dedication.

Addressing Crime Rates:

Chicago’s crime rates, particularly homicide rates, have garnered national attention. While the city’s per-capita homicide rate is higher than that of New York or Los Angeles, it is lower than other Midwestern cities like St. Louis and Detroit. However, in 2021, Chicago experienced a 25-year high in homicides, with 804 reported cases, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Business Community Support:

During the mayoral race, Chicago’s business leaders predominantly supported Mayor Johnson’s opponent, Paul Vallas. Vallas appealed to them with promises of strengthening policing, while Mayor Johnson proposed tax increases on large companies and the wealthy. These tax proposals were part of his broader plan to fund initiatives like affordable housing and mental health treatment.

A New Approach to Policing:

Mayor Johnson advocated for a shift away from a policing-first approach, arguing that it had failed to address the root causes of crime effectively. His alternative proposals included expanding mental health treatment, hiring more detectives, creating youth job programs, and imposing higher taxes on property sales over $1 million.

Creating a Comprehensive Strategy:

One of Mayor Johnson’s key goals was to bring together philanthropic organizations, businesses, law enforcement, and activists to develop a comprehensive strategy for violence prevention. This approach aimed not only to address immediate concerns but also to tackle the underlying conditions that contributed to violence in the city.

Welcoming Migrants:

Mayor Johnson also faced the challenge of a growing migrant crisis. Chicago, like other U.S. cities, struggled to provide shelter and support to hundreds of migrants arriving from the southern border. Despite these challenges, Mayor Johnson expressed his commitment to welcoming all newcomers, emphasizing the importance of treating vulnerable individuals with compassion.

Campaign Promises and Funding:

The mayor’s ambitious campaign promises, including his public safety initiatives, relied on tax increases targeting high earners and large companies. These proposals were likely to face political opposition, with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker declining to support Johnson’s proposal to tax financial transactions, which required approval from state lawmakers.

A Moment for Collaboration:

Mayor Johnson’s tenure was seen as an opportunity to foster collaboration among various stakeholders to address pressing issues in Chicago. It was a moment to engage in meaningful conversations and find innovative solutions for the city’s future.

Remaining Authentic:

To maintain public support, Mayor Johnson understood the importance of authenticity in leadership. He aimed to continue having open conversations with the community, addressing their concerns, and charting a path forward together.

Key Takeaway:

Brandon Johnson’s first 100 days as mayor have raised alarms about the direction of Chicago under his leadership. From his close ties to special interests to his approach to crime control and taxation, there are significant concerns about the city’s future. Chicagoans will need to closely monitor these developments as their mayor’s decisions could have far-reaching consequences.