The Suburban Roots of Chicago Mayoral Candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson

CHICAGO – Most Greek-Americans now live in suburbs, so they have a clear picture of the dominant political and social reality of America today – and some of what’s at stake for the greater Chicago area as Greek-American and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas fights to win his runoff on April 4th against Commissioner Brandon Johnson to become the next mayor of Chicago.

Because both candidates have suburban roots, they have also signaled the importance they place on relations between the big city and its suburbs.

Marni Pyke, who writes for the Daily Herald Media Group, notes in an article that, “whether it’s a Chicago mayor bulldozing Bensenville homes to make way for an expanded O’Hare Airport or Arlington Heights poised to land the Bears football team, equilibrium between the city and suburbs is hard to find.”

Pyke adds, “but both candidates for Chicago mayor show atypical unanimity in desiring a good working relationship between the metropolis and surrounding towns.”

Brandon Johnson, a native of Elgin, IL, the home of the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox church, said if elected, “my responsibility as mayor of the city of Chicago will be to the people of Chicago, and I also recognize that regionally, we have an incredible opportunity to undergird the entire economic structure of the region.”

For his part, Vallas anticipates “a great relationship with the suburbs,” Pyke noting “he worked with leaders across the six counties while CPS chief.”

“There’s so much that we can do collectively – whether it’s on public safety, whether it’s on transportation, whether it’s on economic development. Chicago is part of a vast metropolitan community and we need to understand that and respect that,” Vallas said.

“At the end of the day, where Chicago goes, the suburbs go and vice versa, and I think we have to appreciate that,” Vallas said on March 1, adding, “I’ve known many of the suburban mayors over the years, not to mention the superintendents. I anticipate a great working relationship with them.”

The article observes that Vallas “hails from Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood on the South Side. His grandparents were Greek immigrants.”

“Given the fact that my family is 100% Greek, we had to open up a restaurant because the Greek gene mandates that we open up a restaurant,” Vallas said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We joked that my dad wanted to spend more time with his family, so he opened the restaurant so we were working together seven days a week.”


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