Chicago Mayoral Election: New poll shows Paul Vallas with double-digit lead over Brandon Johnson

Cook Co. President Toni Preckwinkle endorses Brandon Johnson, former CPS Principal Joyce Kenner supports Paul Vallas

Craig Wall Image
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
New poll shows Vallas with double-digit lead over Johnson
Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas has been endorsed by ex-CPS principal Joyce Kenner, as Toni Preckwinkle lends her support to Brandon Johnson.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With the Chicago mayoral runoff election exactly one month away, Paul Vallas is putting his focus on education, while Brandon Johnson is touting an endorsement from a political heavyweight.

The battle of the mayoral endorsements continued Tuesday with support for the candidates coming from a pair of former educators.

This mayoral runoff presents a contrast in educational backgrounds and philosophies, with Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and Johnson, a former teacher and Chicago Teachers Union organizer.

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Vallas, who has campaigned on the important of public safety, says education is a critical component.

"We're not going to address the underlying causes of crime, the underlying causes of social dislocation, the underlying causes of poverty, unless we have high quality public schools," Vallas said.

The latest endorsements come as a new poll in the runoff shows Vallas leading Johnson by 11 percentage points, but with 24% of voters still undecided. With so many still undecided, Johnson continues to court his former rivals.

"Those conversations are going well," Johnson said. "Look the bottom line is, though, the conversations that I'm having, primarily is with the people of Chicago."

The battle of the mayoral endorsements continued Tuesday with support for the candidates coming from a pair of former educators.

Vallas was joined by retired Whitney Young Magnet School Principal Joyce Kenner, who led the school for 27 years before retiring last year. She started at the school in 1995, the same year Vallas took over as CPS CEO.

"When Mr. Vallas became CEO, he made everybody accountable, and some people afraid," Kenner said. "I wasn't afraid because I knew I was doing my job. And I was doing it to the best of my ability, but he made everybody accountable in terms of what we needed to know to do to move the system forward. "

Kenner said she has never been a political person but supports Vallas, and she defended her former boss against criticism about his leadership in other school districts around the country, saying he's a better leader today.

"People were saying he didn't make any difference," Kenner said. "He made a difference by being there. He made a difference by being there, and I'm just being real you guys. This guy is the real deal. He's the real deal and he deserves this position."

Kenner used a school analogy to contend Vallas is the right person for the job.

"I have always believed that people need to be placed on the right seat on the bus," Kenner said. "And if you're on the right seat on the bus, you can make a difference. Mr. Vallas, as a head of our city will be on the right seat on the bus."

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Meanwhile, Johnson tapped former teacher and current Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle for an endorsement. She touted his credentials outside the classroom as a Cook County Commissioner.

"He successfully championed efforts to bring more transparency and equity to public safety," Preckwinkle said. "He's been a leader in the county's efforts to eliminate crushing medical debt. He's also been a stalwart supporter of small businesses."

Ever since the runoff was set, Preckwinkle said she's been working on Johnson's behalf.

"A time has come for a mayor who will be honest about the challenges we face, who will listen and learn from our residents," Preckwinkle said. "A mayor who won't tell us just what we want to hear, but what we need to know."

On Wednesday, Willie Wilson is scheduled to announce his endorsement in the race, which is expected to be Vallas. Former candidate Ja'Mal Green also tweeted that he has met with both candidates and will be making his decision soon.