Chicago mayoral election: New poll shows Vallas ahead of Johnson

A new poll just released is painting a clearer picture of which Chicago mayoral candidate may come out on top next week.

The poll comes as Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas forge ahead in the final week of campaigning.

On Monday, Johnson said he would work to give every Chicago public school the same resources as the system's most selective schools.

Johnson is an organizer for the teachers’ union, which has long been critical of what Johnson called a two-tiered system.

The issue arose when Johnson was asked about North Side Ald. Tom Tunney's warning that Johnson and his allies could end the Selective Enrollment policy as it currently works at schools such as Whitney Young on the Near West Side.

"We cannot afford to have a stratified school district, where you have to apply in order to have access to a quality school," Johnson said. "There are a number of families that received a note from the Chicago Public Schools deeming their children ineligible. Is that a system that's fair and equitable and just?"


Asked to clarify, a campaign spokesman texted, "A Johnson administration would not end selective enrollment at CPS. Johnson...(would) ensure every... child... receives a world-class education without having to navigate an arduous application process...and...realize...high quality public schools in every...neighborhood."

"We're not talking about whether or not neighborhood, selective, charter. We're talking about the desires of families and parents like mine who do not want to receive letters deeming their children ineligible. That's an inequitable structure," Johnson said.

Johnson has talked about his own child attending Kenwood Academy, a highly rated school in the Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood.

Meanwhile, leaders from 23 labor unions that have endorsed Paul Vallas spoke out for him on Monday, including several who said the tax increases proposed by mayoral candidate Johnson are not what Chicago’s battered economy needs right now.

"It's not putting a hotel tax for a hotel industry that's still on its knees. It's not putting a tax on transactions at the Board of Trade, because with a flip of a switch today they can move somewhere else. It's those things, those approached that are not going to work," said Jim Sweeney of Operating Engineers Local Union 150.

Deborah Lane is a leader of the CTA’s Amalgamated Transit Union, whose workers have been hit hard by a surge in violent crime that is a big reason ridership remains down by nearly 50% compared to before the pandemic.

"I stand proudly as Deborah Lane, an organized leader in labor, to endorse Paul Vallas for mayor," she said.

Vallas talked about why the CTA has lost so many workers recently. He promises to put more police officers on trains and at CTA stations.

"When I talk to the transit unions, they tell me their biggest fear is public safety. That's why they're losing members in record numbers and they can't replace those members. Just talk o the workers who are on the job all the time. So it's about providing the police department with the resources and support they need to be effective," Vallas said.

Speaking to the City Club on Monday, Johnson renewed his argument that it would take years for Vallas to fulfill his promise to hire at least 1,600 new police officers.

"Can we afford to wait for 1,600 vacancies when you live in Austin, where, within the last four years, there are more homicides in my neighborhood than the entire North Shore combined?" Johnson said. "Don't tell me that our safety comes down to a doggone hashtag. It's racist and it's ridiculous!"

The new voter opinion survey from Emerson College, which was released on Monday, has Vallas at 46% and Johnson 41%. When undecided voters were pushed to make a decision, Vallas was at 53% and Johnson 47%.

Given the poll's margin of accuracy, there is a chance the two are actually tied.

The poll surveyed 1,000 very likely Chicago voters.

The Chicago Board of Election commissioners say they see no sign of any early voting surge in turnout. Officials expect turnout next week will be similar to February’s disappointing 36% of all registered voters.