Our Guy Brandon
If you follow me at all on social media, you probably saw my December endorsement of Brandon Johnson for Mayor of Chicago. Longtime readers of Girl, I Guess will remember that in 2019, Ellen and I made a dual endorsement for the Mayoral race between progressive activist Amara Enyia and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. We made that choice because while we both loved Amara’s campaign, various issues and a lack of an ability to break through as a candidate dogged her for the entire campaign, and Toni had historically been progressive, even though she was a Machine candidate with a capital M. This year, history is repeating itself, with reliable progressive legislator and Mustache Machine Head (upper lip?) Chuy Garcia running, and a small number of other progressives running to his Left. But I don’t think this race is a rehash of 2019. With all due respect to single-issue Transit voters who have fallen in love with Kam Buckner, I think every progressive, Leftist, and voter in general in Chicago should head to the polls and vote for Brandon Johnson to be the next Mayor of Chicago. I’ll tell you why:
Brandon Johnson is the most progressive candidate running for Mayor.
There it is, plain as day, on his issues campaign page. A slew of progressive issues, plus a forthcoming LGBTQ policy plank that commits to the biggest investment in LGBTQ people of any candidate and hits major community issues that we’ve been advocating for for years and gotten the cold shoulder on from Lori. I got a sneak peek at, thanks to the Johnson campaign sending it over to me and assuring me it’ll be up without edits from what I saw. But let’s tackle the issues themselves.
Apparently a full public safety plank is on its way, but what Brandon has so far ain’t bad at all, considering that it includes Treatment Not Trauma, ending the gang database, working with the new Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability to hold cops responsible for their actions (I actually also trust Brandon to nominate good Commissioners), reopening the mental health clinics, and creating year-round youth employment opportunities. Not bad for an interim plan at all.
On Affordable Housing, Brandon’s platform is the strongest in the field, with commitments to expand affordable housing, naming the wealth divide and historical racism that has led to disinvestment on the South and West sides and committing to actually fix it (not just take credit for pre-existing projects like Lori has), and making housing a human right in Chicago. That includes Just Cause For Eviction. That includes expanding the Affordable Requirements Ordinance. And that includes passing the Real Estate Transfer Tax. A sterling plank which hits all the biggest progressive points.
On Jobs, Brandon promises to fight for a Green New Deal, protect workers, and regulate corporations. That includes making transit universally free and accessible, passing the Rideshare Living Wage Ordinance, and expanding childcare and pre-K citywide. Oh, and on top of all of that, there are commitments to use TIFs to actually develop and strengthen neighborhoods, not just line the pockets of developers, mandate CBAs for new developments, and add dignified union jobs for Chicagoans.
It just keeps going and going. On Education, there’s no candidate I trust more than Brandon Johnson to fight for fully funded, fully staffed schools, and make sure that CPS, the City Colleges system, and everything in the Chicago education ecosystem has everything needed to ensure students succeed and thrive. Environment? Brandon commits to ending so-called “sacrifice zones” in neighborhoods near industrial sites, expand Green infrastructure citywide, and reopen and fully fund the Department of the Environment. On Healthcare? Brandon is an asthmatic and has experienced absurd waiting times at Cook County Hospital growing up and trying to access treatment. He’s committed to speeding up and bringing equity to lead waterline replacement, expanding the Health Department to include more frontline workers, and making home care more accessible in Chicago. Good Government? Brandon is committing to passing laws that mandate transparent budgeting on the Citywide level and creates public financing for elections. Progressive positions on Women’s Rights, Immigration, Transportation and transit… you get the picture. Brandon Johnson has experience passing real, impactful, progressive legislation on all of these issues at the County level, and he’s made the commitment in public to do it on the City level again. And while nobody is beating Kam Buckner’s transit platform, taken as a whole Brandon has far and away the most progressive, and the most visionary platform on pretty much every single issue category, and it isn’t even close. But that’s just the first reason why he’s earned our votes as progressives.
Brandon Johnson is an experienced activist and union organizer who is accountable to the people, and who has won tough elections before.
Brandon has been a leader in his community for years, first as a CPS teacher in Cabrini-Green and then later on the West Side, and later as a union organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union. During his time as a teacher and with the union, Brandon fought against the Emmanuel school closures, was a Dyett Hunger Striker, and fought to support CPS teachers in their recent strikes, and in passing an Elected School Board for CPS.
Once he got elected to the County Board, Brandon didn’t stop fighting for marginalized communities. Early in his first term, he passed the Just Housing Ordinance, prohibiting discrimination against people with arrest records in public housing, and added Medicare Expansion to his accomplishments later in his first term. And he passed the Justice for Black Lives resolution and the Budget For Black Lives through the County Board, securing commitments for racially just and equitable budgeting and spending, which led to a (small) reduction in the Sheriff’s Budget the next year. AND he was an early responder to COVID in nursing homes, helped pass a law that let the Cook County Public Defender represent migrants in Immigration Court, and co-sponsored an ordinance alongside Commissioner Alma Anaya which shut down the Cook County Gang Database. Brandon has experience doing the work of the people, and has already accomplished on the County level many of the top progressive priorities for the City. I believe as Mayor he could get it done again.
But don’t just take my word for it, take word of all these endorsing organizations and electeds, including 6 progressive Ward IPOs, The People’s Lobby, United Working Families, United Northwest Side, Activate Chicago Parents, One People’s Campaign, Grassroots Illinois Action, the AFT, IFT, CTU, CCCTU, SEIU; four Girl, I Guess Golden Shrugees (Delia Ramirez, Lilian Jimenez, Anthony Quezada plus Will Guzzardi); Alders and Green Endorsees Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, Daniel La Spata, Jeanette Taylor, and Carlos Ramirez Rosa; County Commissioners Bill Lowry, Stanley Moore, and Josina Morita; Cristina Pacione-Zayas, and Jonathan Jackson (who I don’t love, but whose endorsement is a big deal in the Black Political Establishment anyway) and longtime State Rep Mary Flowers. That’s one hell of a list, comprised of progressive electeds from across the City.
The tough election point is important, too but underrated; Brandon Johnson knows what it takes to win a knock-down, drag-out fight for public office, and that’s exactly what this Mayoral race is going to be, every step of the way. Although he was functionally unopposed in 2022 (Libertarians are for laughs, not for serious candidacies in Cook County), Brandon won his County Board seat by primarying Original Soda Tax Hater Richard Boykin in 2018. The margin? 437 votes. Kam Buckner has never faced a challenger in an election. Chuy Garcia hasn’t won a close election during this century. I’ll take the guy who knows how to win the close ones.
Brandon Johnson can win this election. No, seriously, Brandon can win this election. He’s got the money, with over $1.8 million in the bank as of the release of the Guide. He’s winning debates, being attacked by Lori, and is already polling (sorry, surveying) in first place in some measures. This isn’t some longshot, head-in-the-clouds Green Party Lefty campaign with all the right politics but not a prayer in the world of winning. Brandon’s campaign has the endorsements of most of the endorsing progressives in the City, has common sense policies that center progressive and community priorities and resonate with voters. He’s not a widely-hated candidate who’s been in politics for decades, nor is he scandal-prone or possessing a trove of skeletons in his closet. There’s no reason that Brandon can’t make the runoff. What happens then? Against another progressive like Chuy, Brandon can easily consolidate Black and progressive support to pull out a victory. Against a conservative like Paul Vallas or Willie Wilson, Brandon cleans up because nobody wants a Republican or a failed technocrat as Mayor. Against Lori, if she somehow makes the runoff? Lmao you’ve gotta be kidding me. Now all he needs is your vote. Dear reader, we’ve got a huge opportunity to elect an accountable, experienced, rooted, grassroots-made progressive to the highest office in this City. We’ve just got to hit the polls, request our mail-in ballots, and send Brandon Johnson to City Hall.