Johnson, Varras, mayors’ forums to debate schools, budgets


In a heated debate Saturday on the city’s South Side, mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Ballas were able to agree on at least one thing.

I was asked if I thought the runoff represented a battle between the Chicago Teachers’ Union and the Police Fraternity.

Hosted by the African American Leadership Coalition at Kenwood High School, the forum focused on issues facing black voters.

Asked to name issues with which he disagrees with the FOP, Vallas denounced “rhetoric” from FOP leaders and said he would support the consent decree. When asked the same about CTU, Johnson dodged the question and said he would be mayor for all Chicagoans.

Johnson acknowledged that if elected, he would face “tough decisions” in negotiations with CTU and the city would not be able to meet all demands, but added: ”

Johnson, Cook County Commissioner and CTU organizer, and Vallas, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, had the most heated exchanges on questions about schooling in the city.

In response to a question about teaching black history in Chicago schools, Johnson attacked Valas for past comments about important racial theories.

“It’s a problem when you talk about important racial theories as if there’s a problem,” Johnson said.

Vallas, as head of CPS, responded emphatically: He also taught the African history of world history, which had never been done before. ”

Johnson also criticized CPS, which leads the record for Valas, saying that “the black teacher’s greatest escape happened under your watch.”

“How are you creating a business by firing black women and preventing them from patronizing those businesses?” Johnson said. “And as soon as we ran out of this city, the entire infrastructure collapsed… building an economy out of sand and escaping as soon as it collapsed.”

Vallas hit back at Johnson over the 2019 teachers’ union strike and school closures during the pandemic, which he said had “dire consequences.”

According to Vallas, the teachers’ union was able to negotiate “the most expensive contract in history” but complained that it didn’t add “one minute to class time.”

The two also agreed on economic issues, with Johnson calling for a system that would provide “micro-subsidies” to help small businesses stay on track and stimulate economic growth in disadvantaged areas.

“Most small businesses, especially black ones, often don’t have the initial capital to kickstart their business,” he said.

Vallas said it has cut down on the bureaucracy that makes it more difficult for black business owners to get contracts with the city.

Johnson also reiterated his pledge as mayor not to raise property taxes and instead said he would raise the necessary funds for his program by taxing wealthy Chicagoans and big businesses.

“We’ve put property taxes on the people, and that’s why I’m committed to not raising property taxes,” Johnson said. It’s a Democratic value, and that’s why my opponents don’t propose it.”

Vallas countered that Johnson “hasn’t managed anything” so far.

“His tax policy is not about taxing the wealthy, it’s about taxing small businesses,” Valas said.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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