Brandon Johnson sworn in as Chicago mayor at inauguration ceremony

Johnson issues 4 executive orders hours after swearing in, aimed at tackling safety, youth employment, migrants and more

Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Brandon Johnson Inauguration
Brandon Johnson InaugurationBrandon Johnson thanked Chicagoans, cracked some jokes, and laid out his big, bold, progressive agenda for his next four years as mayor in his inaugural address Monday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Brandon Johnson was officially sworn in as Chicago's 57th mayor Monday at UIC's Credit Union One Arena,

All 50 members of the City Council were also officially sworn in.

"I am truly humbled and honored to stand before you as the 57th mayor of the greatest city in the world," Johnson said.

Mayor Johnson's day began before his inauguration, at Michele Clark Magnet School in the 5100-block of West Harrison Street in Austin. He then made his way to the arena for the swearing in.

People who lined up to get into the inauguration said they want to see what Johnson will bring to the office.

"He brags about a better Chicago, we're going to hold him to a better Chicago, and I just want to be present when this happens so therefore I can hold folks accountable," attendee Pauline Sylvain-Lewis said.

Before a rousing, packed audience, Johnson promised to usher in a new era of progressive causes. Calling it the "Soul of Chicago," Johnson said it will take everyone to achieve his big goals.

"I believe what makes us great is our people and not just the names that show up in history books, but the ones that show up in our schools, on the beat, at the worksite at the concert hall and of course in the boardrooms," Johnson said.

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson sits down 1-on-1 with ABC7's Cheryl Burton

The first mayor from the city's West Side Austin community, Johnson injected humor into his speech while also elevating the plight of so many from his community.

"You can't stop someone with a payment plan from becoming mayor of the city of Chicago," he joked.

And people from his community heard him loud and clear.

"He started calling out names to let people know 'Hey! Let's get this together, let's do this as one,'" said resident Angela Bennett.

"I want to think past a 'he' thing and look at it's an 'us' thing. We have to have skin in the game," said resident Marshawn Feltus.

The new mayor spoke about finding common ground. He thanked Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who gave him a big hug as she handed of the reigns. The common ground was extended to members of the city council too, as Johnson turned around and applauded aldermen sitting on stage, a very different tone than Lightfoot, who lost the support of many aldermen during her four year term.

"The people are counting on us to work together to collaborate to make their lives better every day," Johnson said. "We won't always agree, but I won't ever question your motives or commitment."

Unity is how Johnson said he plans to achieve a bold agenda that includes reopening mental health clinics and fixing public transportation.

When talking about public safety and policing, he linked the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo and the recent murder of Chicago Police Officer Areanah Preston.

"The tears of Adam Toledo's parents are made of the same sorrow as Officer Preston's parents," he said.

The entire ceremony reflected who Johnson is: the Black son of a preacher who grew up to lead the nation's third largest city. The new mayor even admitted his inauguration was more like a revival.

"There were things that say this is a new administration, this is a new person in town; I'm not gonna run it like other people ran it," said political consultant Delmarie Cobb. "I think he's more in the vein of Harold Washington and I think we are going to see that."

That extended to his formal inaugural celebration; billed as the People's Ball, Chicagoans from every corner of the city toasted the new mayor and the promise of a brighter day.

"I certainly think that he has the potential to make his administration a transformative administration," said Mark Wallace of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras.

"I'm just hoping everyone can come together and support this new administration and do good work for Chicago," said Chris Brown, commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.

Johnson signs first executive orders as mayor

Just before a meet-and-greet and hours after being sworn in, Brandon Johnson signed his first four executive orders as Chicago mayor.

After returning from the inauguration ceremony, Johnson was joined by his wife and three children to unveil his name on the glass on the front door of his fifth floor office.

Then, just a few hours after his swearing in, Johnson signed his first four executive orders as mayor.

The first, EO 2023-15, is aimed at boosting youth employment by ordering the Office of Budget and Management to analyze the resources in the city's 2023 budget in order to find funding for youth employment and enrichment programs. It also instructs the Deputy Mayor of Education and Health and Human Services to lead all city departments and agencies in identifying entry-level jobs that would be suitable for young people.

The second order, EO 2023-16, establishes a Deputy Mayor for Immigrant, Migrant and Refugee Rights, who will coordinate and communicate between city departments and officials to support newly arrived migrants, refugees and immigrants. This includes immediate needs and long-standing policy and goals.

The third order, EO 2023-17, establishes a Deputy Mayor for Community Safety, whose office will focus on "eradicating the root causes of crime and violence" and "advance a comprehensive, healing-centered approach to community safety."

The final order, EO 2023-18, establishes a Deputy Mayor for Labor Relations, with the goal of allowing "coordination to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of Chicago." This role will also work to improve working conditions, protect workers' rights and advance new job opportunities in the city, Johnson said.

Johnson shook hands with residents, City Hall workers and other folks who had waited in line for the chance to wish him well.

"I'm hoping that he's successful, he succeeds in everything that he's out to do for us, because we need someone like him," said Denise Wilson.

"He is such a great person. I mean, you can feel it in his heart. He's genuine, and I love that about him," said Rudy Urian.

Johnson had planned to give a speech in Daley Plaza this afternoon, but that event was canceled so he could continue the meet and greet. The crowd had started to thin out by around 4 p.m., but there may be a busload of people headed to City Hall to get a moment with the new mayor.

"In this era of polarization and division, I'm hoping that he will pull us together," said Anton Kerner, who was waiting to meet the mayor.

"I'm hoping that he's successful, he succeeds in everything that he's out to do for us because we need someone like," said Denise Wilson, who was waiting to meet the mayor.

From his new home in Tokyo, former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel congratulated Johnson on his win and wished him and his family success.

"Let us come together on behalf of our shared future," Emanuel said. "This is a time for all of us to work together to begin a new chapter together as one city. Mayor Johnson, today's milestone is just the latest and hardly, hardly the last. It is the job of a lifetime, I can tell you that firsthand. It is your time and it is your turn to carry forth the mantle of leadership."