LINCOLN SQUARE — Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) has endorsed county Commissioner Brandon Johnson for mayor.
Vasquez announced his support of Johnson — who is facing Paul Vallas, a former Chicago Public Schools CEO, in the April 4 runoff — in a series of tweets Monday.
The alderman told Block Club he believes Johnson’s support of progressive policies like the Treatment Not Trauma and Bring Chicago Home proposed ordinances would make him a key ally as progressive City Council members try to move their agenda forward.
“In the runoff, it is a very clear choice as to what’s better for the city, right? You can decide to actually move backwards in ways that have failed us when it comes to public safety, when it comes to investing in education,” Vasquez said. “Or we can move forward and try things and find solutions to problems that have not been solved in Chicago’s history.
“Brandon is somebody who comes from an organizer background, and I think that’s necessary for the role, especially if you’re talking about what could be a very divided council.”
The proposed Treatment Not Trauma ordinance would have the city invest more in resources to prevent and respond to homelessness, mental health crises and substance abuse disorder, rather than having the Police Department responsible for that.
“I think most folks are in agreement that police officers are overwhelmed and overburdened,” Vasquez said. “They’re doing more than what their job entails. They should focus on investigation, apprehension and emergency response when appropriate.”
Meanwhile, Bring Chicago Home would increase the city’s real estate transfer tax on property sales of more than $1 million. The additional funds would be spent on building housing; efforts to preserve existing housing, like single-room occupancy buildings; and rent subsidies, among other things.
“I think being able to rebalance and manage our resources in a better way leads us to a safer city. And I think Brandon offers that,” Vasquez said.
The crowded field for mayor initially had eight candidates challenge Mayor Lori Lightfoot on the ballot, ranging from newcomers to familiar faces, progressives to right of center.
Before the runoff, Vasquez had endorsed Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García for mayor based on a February poll from the Sun-Times, WBEZ, Telemundo Chicago and NBC5 showing Lightfoot trailing behind García and former CPS CEO Paul Vallas.
But García landed in fourth place with 13 percent of the vote — one slot behind Lightfoot’s 17 percent and missing any chance of making a runoff in the crowded field.
Instead, voters will decide between Vallas and Johnson on April 4.
Vasquez said his decision to initially support García for mayor was a “nuanced” one because so many people were running for office and García seemed best positioned to block Lightfoot or Vallas from the Mayor’s Office.
Vallas and Johnson represent deeply opposite sides of Chicago’s political spectrum.
Johnson is backed by the Chicago Teachers Union and has pushed a more progressive agenda Vasquez supports, while Vallas has positioned himself as the “tough-on-crime” candidate.
“If we end up in the unfortunate circumstance with Paul Vallas as mayor, I believe you’re going to see Council Wars but in reverse, right? Where you get the progressives all having to unify to make sure that a right-wing ideology isn’t what’s governing and causing our government to go in the wrong direction,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez is joining other progressive city council members like Alds. Matt Martin (47th), Maria Hadden (49th) and Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd), who had endorsed Johnson for mayor before the runoff.
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