Johnson vs. Vallas: Which Mayoral Candidate Will Prevail in the Run-off?


Ananth Prabhu, Sports Editor

Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas will face off in a runoff election for Chicago Mayor on April 4, 2023. They were the two leading candidates in the Feb. 28 mayoral election where none of the nice candidates managed to win more than half of the vote.

At a televised mayoral forum at WTTW next to the NEIU main campus, Johnson said police officers are currently expected “to be social workers, therapists and marriage counselors [because] almost 40% of the calls that come through 9-1-1 are mental health crises.” Johnson believes that diverting funds from the police department would allow more resources to be given to social workers, therapists and mental health professionals who could help the civilians of Chicago and it could free up law enforcement to deal with more severe crimes, such as gun violence. Johnson said that police officers are not mental health professionals because mental health professionals are not supposed to carry guns. When asked about the 40% of 9-1-1 calls being mental health crises, an NEIU biology major, Agnetta Krechner, said she “fully supports reallocating [police] funds for more specialized programs, like the mental health” because civilians dial 9-1-1 for noise complaints, lost animals and feeling threatened from mental issues or gun issues and “[the police] can’t be experts in everything.” 

An NEIU student majoring in social work, Darrion Reed, believes in prioritizing education over police “because it is very important for the youth and people in all ages and different levels of education.” When it comes to prioritizing either educational needs or policing needs, as a Chicago resident, Reed admitted that education needs more improvement in the City of Chicago for both teachers and students rather than policing and policing alternatives, such as mental health.

Vallas wants to convert all under-enrolled Chicago Public Schools into “community schools, which means they [would be] open all the time through the dinner hour, over the weekends [and] over the summer.” Vallas is planning for his proposed community school initiative to be open to the community throughout Chicago, and provide additional services such as health clinics, social services and job training programs. Vallas also believes in investing in vocational training programs to help young people acquire skills in the trades that will make them employable in the future.

According to Mac Varilla, a Chicago resident and NEIU undergraduate student, the issue of gun violence hit home for him as he lives near Logan Square and Belmont Cragin. Varilla believes that more activities for children in working-class neighborhoods would help prevent gun violence because “the disparity between top magnet schools, selective-enrollment schools and the neighborhood schools” are quite high. He also emphasized the importance of mentorship and guidance for children because when kids “are not playing basketball or sports, [they] hang out with the wrong crowd.”

When it comes to voting, Krechner said, “I think it is really important for us to get representation at every level” of our political system, which includes “the smallest levels, the gateway to the larger representation that people usually care about like governor, mayor and president and like the house [of representatives]”. Reed said that he treats local, state and federal elections “on an equal playing field.” Reed would like his fellow NEIU students and Chicago residents to “think and do your research as much as you can before you vote.” 

Chicago residents can vote in the upcoming run-off election for mayor of Chicago, on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Those who still need to register can do so at your local polling place on election day. All that is needed to register is two forms of identification. At least one must show a Chicago address.