Chicago’s Next Mayor: Brandon Johnson or Paul Vallas?

On March 26, 2023 Race dominates final days of the mayoral election in deeply segregated Chicago was published by Natasha Korecki. The final paragraph of the article has the following quote: “The opportunities are not here in Chicago — they’re just not here. We’re such a segregated city,” she said. “If someone can just do something to bring us more together as a community — I mean, we’re gonna always see race, always”

Local Chicago resident Lin Wilson was the Chicago resident who made that statement. The article is a tortured circuitous argument that asserts that race will be the determining factor in this year’s mayoral race in Chicago. It’s the same banal contrived race argument that we hear time and again.

The argument is as follows: there are two candidates in the runoff for mayor. One is black and the other is white. Chicago is split into thirds: white, black, and Latino. Therefore, all of the poor black people will vote for the black candidate, the affluent white people will vote for the white candidate, and the Latinos will be the deciding votes. 

Not only is this argument reductive, but it is insulting to the intelligence of every Chicago voter, dare I say American voter. Chicago is plagued with crime right now. Perhaps it always has been. Regardless this will be the main issue upon which voters will make a decision.

At the end of the day voters will choose between Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson based on their belief about which approach to quell crime will be the most effective. Brandon Johnson believes that if we address youth unemployment that crime will decrease. That theory belies the fact that the majority of youth in Chicago have chosen not to work.

Vallas contends that we need to be tough on crime. He asserts that if a city is not safe that no other government initiative will have a chance to be successful. Black residents in Chicago by and large have interpreted this as an attack on black people. However, the problem with that interpretation is that it assumes that the majority of criminals in Chicago are black. 

Unfortunately, that is correct. The majority of violent crime being committed in Chicago is being committed by black people. This isn’t because black people are genetically predisposed to antisocial behavior. It is because poverty and lack of education position people to have fewer choices. That does not mean however that because any group of people chooses antisocial behavior that they should be given a mulligan.

The residents of Chicago should be able to ride the CTA train without fear of being pushed onto the tracks, mugged, or murdered. Chicago residents should be able to safely travel to and from work and places for entertainment without fear of being carjacked. African American children should be able to walk to and from school without fear of being caught in the crossfire of gang violence. Senior citizens in Chicago should be able to freely travel throughout the city without fear of being randomly murdered or accosted by juvenile delinquents.

As with most things this is not a discussion of race. This is a discussion about safety and the residents of Chicago choosing the next executive who will make safety the number one priority. Paul Vallas is the answer that Chicago needs in 2023.

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