Chicago mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson, Paul Vallas launch attacks as Election Day nears

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Chicago mayoral candidates launch attacks as Election Day nears
Chicago Mayoral Election candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas launched attacks at each other with Election Day coming up next week.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On the lower West Side, a standing room-only crowd of mostly Black and Brown voters heard separately from the candidates for Chicago mayor on environmental issues.

"Bring justice, environmental justice - whether it's air, whether it's water, whether it's nutrition - to every community, and that will be my pledge," Paul Vallas said.

Brandon Johnson also weighed in.

"For too long, our communities have been seen as dumping grounds for waste and materials that no one seems to know what else to do with," Johnson said.

The candidates also made a final push on the campaign trail on Monday with the election just eight days away.

Vallas rallied with labor groups on Monday morning, while Johnson pitched his vision to civic leaders and the campaign in Pilsen.

The candidates were going after one another in the separate events. Their economic plans, along with public safety, have continued to be the major focus as they look to win over the few remaining voters and energize their bases.

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Vallas is hoping to tap into the "boots on the ground muscle" of the two dozen labor groups that have endorsed him to get out the vote between now and Election Day.

"It's gonna take more than a single group to get us over the top, so to speak, because this is going to be a very close election. And, I think, obviously, it's going to be, you know, the ultimate deciding factor will be turnout, but certainly, this is an enormous help," Vallas said. "We will move this city forward, but we will only move this city forward if we're in partnership with labor."

Vallas and union leaders continued to be critical of Johnson for past comments about defunding police, as well as his $800 million budget plan that includes a corporate head tax and a dollar per night hotel tax.

"We cannot have a downtown that's in disarray, we cannot have the crime that's been going on and we damn sure don't need more taxes," said Firefighters Local 2 President Jim Tracy.

Johnson hit the campaign trail in Pilsen on Monday afternoon with a series of stops aimed at getting out the vote.

Earlier, he presented his blueprint for Chicago's future to civic leaders gathered at the City Club. There, Johnson denied he would defund police, calling that criticism racist and ridiculous.

"Don't tell me our safety comes down to a doggone hashtag. It's racist and it's ridiculous," Johnson said.

He also defended his economic plan.

"Newsflash everybody, we use a balanced approach of creating new revenue streams, primarily asking wealthy corporations to pay their fair share," Johnson said.

RELATED | Chicago mayor election 2023: Johnson, Vallas talk community plans, coalitions at forum

Johnson attacked Vallas, blaming him for reallocating Chicago Public Schools pension money when he was schools superintendent, leaving the district severely underfunded.

"But then, the market came crashing down, and Paul Vallas' budget wizardry was revealed for what it is: a dangerous trick that kicked the can down the road," Johnson said.

Johnson also accused Vallas of being someone who will side with the interests of his wealthy donors. Vallas accused Johnson of being "bought and paid for" by the Chicago Teachers Union, one of his major financial supporters.

The attacks likely to continue in the final week until the election.