Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson enters Chicago mayor election

Chicago Teachers Union backing Johnson

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Friday, October 28, 2022
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Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson is entering the Chicago mayoral election, with CTU backing.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The crowded field in the Chicago mayor's race just got a bit more crowded.

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson threw his hat in the ring Thursday after months of speculation.

Brandon Johnson is now the 12th challenger to join the race to replace Lori Lightfoot as mayor. And he does so with support from some powerful progressive groups and unions who are also expected to bring an influx of money to his campaign.

READ MORE | Chicago mayoral election: Brandon Johnson garners endorsements, but hasn't yet announced run

Johnson rallied with supporters Thursday morning at a park behind the Jenner Academy of the Arts, where he began his career as a teacher.

"Let's change the city of Chicago, let's bring revival to the city of Chicago," Johnson told the dozens who gathered for his campaign kickoff.

Johnson - who went from being a teacher to a CTU organizer and now Cook County Commissioner - said his campaign is motivated by what he sees in the city and does not see coming from City Hall.

"There are families in this city who are struggling every single day to survive. And we do not have an administration that's committed in a real way to lead with boldness, with energy with the ability to collaborate," Johnson said during a sit-down interview with ABC7's Craig Wall.

Johnson said Mayor Lightfoot reneged on her campaign promises to support an elected school board and to reopen mental health clinics.

"I'm committed to fighting for affordable housing, because I've done it already," Johnson said. "I'm committed to a budget that speaks to equity and justice. I've done that already. I'm committed to making sure that we have fully funded neighborhood schools and a health care system that works."

But in the fight against crime, Johnson dodged repeated questions about accusations by Lightfoot that he supports defunding police.

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"Safety is directly tied to our ability to provide economic security," Johnson said, "and if we're not committed to that then we're not serious about having safe, thriving, healthy communities."

Johnson is 46, married and raising his three children in the Austin neighborhood. He said he is not worried about his current lack of name recognition.

"The cool thing about being in this moment is that the city of Chicago has a long track record of electing people who did not stand a chance," Johnson said, invoking Barack Obama and Harold Washington as examples.

Johnson said he's not worried about Congressman Chuy Garcia possibly getting in the race, even though progressives have been strong supporters of Garcia.

"Progressives in this city and this state have made their decision and that decision is for me," Johnson said.

Mayor Lightfoot, meanwhile, said she will be running on her record and is not concerned about Johnson's campaign.

"Come one come all," Mayor Lightfoot said.

Johnson's campaign has already gotten a $1 million commitment from the American Federation of Teachers and he said some more substantial donations are on their way.