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Greek-American Paul Vallas Advances to Next Round of Chicago Mayoral Election

March 1, 2023

CHICAGO – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot faced a resounding defeat on Tuesday, losing her bid for a second term due to widespread dissatisfaction from voters over her handling of crime and policing in the city. Lightfoot, who made history four years ago as the first Black woman to be elected mayor of Chicago, saw her popularity plummet during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as the city suffered a spike in violent crime in 2020.

However, this loss has paved the way for a new candidate to emerge in the mayoral race – Greek American Paul Vallas. A former public schools executive, Vallas is known for his aggressive campaign tactics and has portrayed Chicago as being in a state of turmoil under Lightfoot’s leadership. He has garnered endorsements from the local Fraternal Order of Police and has run on a platform promising to make the city safer by bolstering the police force, improving arrest rates for serious crimes, and expanding charter schools.

Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas speaks at his election night event in Chicago, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Mayor Lori Lightfoot conceded defeat Tuesday night, ending her efforts for a second term and setting the stage for Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to run against former Chicago Public Schools CEO Vallas for Chicago mayor. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Vallas’ opponent in the upcoming runoff election on April 4 is Brandon Johnson, a county board commissioner and former educator who was endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union. Johnson has staked out a position to the left of Lightfoot, advocating for more mental health services and suggesting that he agreed with the movement to reduce funding to police departments, although he later backtracked on this position.

The race for mayor in Chicago has highlighted the political divide that has emerged in some of America’s largest, most liberal cities, where hard-on-crime policies have resonated with voters. This election presents a stark contrast between the two remaining candidates, with Vallas promising to take a tough stance on crime and Johnson advocating for a more progressive approach to public safety and education.

Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas smiles as he speaks at his election night event in Chicago, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Mayor Lori Lightfoot conceded defeat Tuesday night, ending her efforts for a second term and setting the stage for Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to run against former Chicago Public Schools CEO Vallas for Chicago mayor. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Vallas, who has served in various positions in public education, has a track record of implementing reforms that have improved school districts in Chicago. He has also been vocal about his Greek heritage and has cited his immigrant parents as his inspiration for pursuing a career in public service. As the mayoral race in Chicago heats up, Vallas’ Greek American community is rallying behind him, hoping to see him make history as the first Greek American mayor of the city.

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