Our Chicago: City's new mayor and City Council changes

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, May 14, 2023
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Brandon Johnson is about to become Chicago's 57th mayor.

As he takes office, Chicago is dealing with an influx of migrants, the start of summer and the rise in violence we often see and a city that's still working to rebound following the Covid pandemic.

Johnson will be working to address these issues alongside a city council that's changing with 13 new members.

So after the celebrations, where does he start? We asked political science professors Twyla Blackmond Larnell from Loyola University and Jaime Dominguez of Northwestern University given what we've seen regarding his transition team, what we might expect during Johnson's first 100 days in office.

"He has clearly picked a very strong team. All that I hear is how impressed people are with how expansive and how diverse and how broad his transition team is," said Larnell, "These are clearly individuals who didn't just buy into his agenda as he was running for office, these are folks who have been working towards this agenda for many years prior to this day. And I also want to point out that we don't see a lot of the traditional Chicago politicians on Brandon Johnson's transition team. I think he really is trying to build a new Chicago and I think that's what we see when we look at his transition team."

"I think the challenge for Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson is going to be how does he move successfully from his multi-racial electoral coalition into a multi-racial governing coalition," said Dominguez, "So right now I give him an A in terms of just how he's put this team together. He did say that he's going to put together a team that reflects the city of Chicago and I think so far he's done that."

"The Mayor's office in Chicago does have a substantial amount of power," said Larnell. But with 13 incoming new members of the Chicago City Council, she said this is pretty interesting for Chicago politics. "We're going to watch a lot of moving pieces, as people try to find their new role in city government and as the mayor attempts to create a new agenda."

The new City Council will be more diverse with more women including two Asian Americans on the council, LGBTQ-plus members will make up a fifth of the council and there will be 20 Black alderpeople. "As someone that welcomes civic engagement and the inclusion of different voices and perspectives, I think that's great for the city of Chicago," said Dominguez, "I think we hopefully will move away from what my mentor Dick Simpson calls a rubber stamp city council in Chicago and I think that's what's also given the mayor kind of an iron fist in terms of governing. So I think that this time you're going to just see the council really do what a democracy is supposed to do in terms of having its elected officials engage, debate, discuss, and bring the different voices in and new voices particularly, young voices to the table to hopefully come to just more again comprehensive and multi-level solutions to a myriad of problems that require different perspectives and voices. "