CHICAGO (WLS) -- Paul Vallas' education record came under fire from Brandon Johnson Thursday in a news conference that was disrupted by some of Vallas' supporters.
Johnson went after Vallas in the presser at Rainbow PUSH headquarters with the help of supporters from Philadelphia and New Orleans, where Vallas ran the public school systems after leaving Chicago Public Schools in 2001.
"We still are in Philadelphia trying to recover a school district that was destroyed years ago. The buck stops here," said Kendra Brooks, Philadelphia City Council member.
"Here's one thing I need to make sure that we're clear about: not just our belief in public education, but to make sure that we are investing in public education," Johnson said.
When Vallas supporters tried to ask questions on his behalf and then take over the microphone, Johnson's supporters chanted them down. Police were called, but there were no arrests.
Outside the Vallas supporters, including an educator who worked with him in Philadelphia and New Orleans, defended his record as one of success.
Vallas was later joined by a group of Black elected officials and community leaders from the South and West sides, where he dismissed the Johnson criticisms as desperate and not based on facts.
"I'm running against somebody who believes that you can cut police, the police budget by $150 million, you don't have to fill vacancies, and 200 detectives promoted is somehow going to solve the problem of violent crime," Vallas said.
He also won endorsements from five additional Black alderpersons, along with former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones.
"This election is about the qualified person we want at City Hall, the one who has the experience," Jones said.
"April 4th we're gonna send a clear message that this race is not about race and we're not gonna let somebody dictate, making sure this race is about race," said 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale.
Johnson also picked up more endorsements Thursday, this time Kam Buckner, the first former mayoral candidate to back him in this runoff election.
The candidates will debate in our ABC7 studios on Thursday.
You can watch "The People's Forum" at 7 p.m. on our digital channel 7.2, and on our streaming platforms.
You can also watch it Friday night after ABC7 Eyewitness News at 10 p.m. It will be rebroadcast on Sunday at 4 p.m.