Mayor Johnson’s long to-do list, another firefighter mourned and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Brandon Johnson speaks at his election night party at the Marriott Marquis Chicago after defeating Paul Vallas in the mayoral runoff election last night.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about an eight-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

Weather ☁️

This afternoon will be cloudy with wind gusts as high as 45 mph and a high near 73 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low near 34. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 53.


Top story

Long to-do list looms for new Mayor Johnson

After an exhausting mayoral campaign and a five-week sprint to the runoff finish, Chicago’s mayor-elect would probably like to catch up on sleep and take a long vacation.

But the challenges confronting Brandon Johnson, who will soon become the city’s 57th mayor, are so daunting, a long weekend might have to suffice.

From assembling a personal staff and cabinet and choosing a new police superintendent from three finalists chosen by a civilian oversight agency to speeding up police hiring and devising a plan to stop the traditional summer surge of violent crime, the new mayor has his work cut out for him.

Here are some of the many items on the mayor-elect’s to-do list:

CPD superintendent

If one appointment can make or break a Chicago mayor, this is it. Outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s decision to go around the Police Board she once led to choose retired Dallas police chief David Brown and stand by him for three years was one of her biggest failures.

Chicago Public Schools

At its final meeting before the runoff, the Chicago Board of Education warned of a looming, $628 million deficit in a school system that has hemorrhaged students for more than a decade. Federal stimulus funds propping up CPS will dry up in just two years.

The contract with the Chicago Teachers Union expires next summer. Negotiations on what will almost certainly be the last contract hammered out by a mayoral-appointed board are expected to begin later this year. A moratorium on school closings expires in 2025. The school board has urged the new mayor to lobby the Illinois General Assembly for pension relief and other structural changes to plug a budget gap that will grow to $750 million in the coming years.

Chicago Transit Authority

Total ridership on CTA buses and trains rose 24% last year, but is still just half what it was before the pandemic. The number of employees still working from home is not the only culprit. Employee shortages, service reliability and complaints about security, maintenance and rider behavior also are keeping passengers away. RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard has sounded the alarm about a mass transit “funding cliff” that will leave the CTA, Metra and Pace $730 million short of the operating funds they need by 2025, when federal stimulus funds run out. Fare hikes alone can’t dig the system out of the hole, Dillard has said.

Homelessness and affordable housing

The recent furor over homeless persons living at O’Hare Airport underscores the urgency of this issue. So do the encampments that have popped up all over the city along, as well as the estimated 12,000 CPS students who are homeless. Chicago needs to do more to confront its homeless crisis, even after receiving a $60 million federal grant — the largest single grant in a $315 million pot of money doled out in February by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Read our Fran Spielman’s full to-do list for the new mayor in her latest analysis.


More news you need


Elections 2023 🗳️

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Cynthia King, 63, votes on Election Day at Penn Elementary School in Lawndale yesterday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The race for City Council

In addition to the mayor’s race, yesterday’s runoff also saw Chicagoans in 14 wards choose the leadership they want to represent them on City Council.

This year’s election ushered in potentially historic gains in diverse representation on City Council, including a record number of Latino members. And with Ald. Nicole Lee’s victory and Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth apparently on track to win in the 48th Ward, the number of Asian American City Council members could grow to two.

While some numbers could change as mail-in ballots continue to trickle in, here are the key updates:


A bright one ☀️

Grocery store pop-up opens in West Garfield Park, offers residents a taste of things to come

Spring break for CPS students began Monday and fourth-grader Leona Taylor started it by taking off for . . . West Madison Street, where she hoped to spread the word about a new grocery store opening in the West Side neighborhood.

Taylor, a student at Jacob Beidler Elementary School in East Garfield Park, tried to get the attention of passersby about the Garfield Park Community’s Council’s pop-up grocery in West Garfield Park, which opened Monday and — unlike spring break — lasts through the end of the month. It’s open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

The pop-up, managed by Taylor’s mother Samantha Taylor, is the latest effort to make up for the lackluster grocery stores in the neighborhood, where, since the Aldi on Madison Street closed in 2021, residents have been left with little beyond the Save-a-Lot at Madison and Pulaski Road. It’s small, but contains enough of everything that Taylor hopes in the short term, residents won’t have to go to Oak Park for groceries, and in the long term gives them an idea of what things will be like if the area had a permanent, community-led grocery store.

“There’s a change coming,” Taylor said. “This is about waking people up.”

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Angela Taylor, wellness coordinator for the Garfield Park Community Council, with an assortment of fruit available at a pop-up grocery store that opened Monday in West Garfield Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The pop-up, she said, is just the opposite of the Save-a-Lot, where, she believes, the quality is much lower.

Inside the pop-up, crates of fresh bell peppers and mangoes were laid out on tables. A fridge contained cuts of meat from baby back ribs to turkey tails, as well as milk and eggs. There were also shelf-stable goods and cleaning products. Located at 4316 W. Madison St., the store accepts LINK cards. It was funded through a $100,000 private donation, organizers said.

Shoppers will be invited to fill out a survey about what they would like to see in a permanent grocery that the Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative plans to bring to the area. Customers also can learn more about the council’s outdoor market, set to reopen every other weekend in June in East Garfield Park.

Our Michael Loria has more on the grocery store pop-up.


From the press box


Your daily question☕

With the end of the runoff election, what’s something you think the city should focus on now?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What was your experience like voting Tuesday?

Here’s what some of you said…

“I went when the polls opened ... it took me 5 minutes.” — Sherronda Bohanon

“Wet.” — Brett Bowman

“The first time, there was no one else voting. The second time voting, there was a small line.” — Stef F.

“Very quick and easy. Voted this morning at 9 a.m. and was in and out in five minutes.” — Yonatan B.

“It was great. It took me longer to remember my ward number than it did to vote.” — Diane Stone


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