Chicago Runoff Election 2023: Brandon Johnson wins mayor's race

The Sun-Times and WBEZ’s coverage of Chicago’s 2023 citywide runoff elections.

Last Updated: April 05, 2023 09:33 AM

The final stage of the 2023 Chicago municipal election took place Tuesday, April 4.

Brandon Johnson was elected as Chicago’s 57th mayor, defeating Paul Vallas in a closely watched race.

In City Council, at least one of the 14 wards in the runoff Tuesday was still too close to call by the night’s end, with yet-to-be-counted mail-in votes set to determine the results.

Scroll down for a detailed summary of Election Day coverage from the Sun-Times and WBEZ.

What you need to know
10:32 AM April 5, 2023
How Chicago voted for the mayoral runoff, ward by ward

Brandon Johnson won the election to become Chicago’s next mayor, but more than 270,000 voters still cast their ballots for Paul Vallas.

With the city heavily split during this election cycle, it came down to less than 20,000 votes between the two candidates as of Wednesday morning.

Below, check out a look at how the city voted for Johnson (purple) and Vallas (orange) based on ward precincts. For an interactive map version of the ward-by-ward mayoral race results, click here.

Ward by ward map

WBEZ Chicago

12:35 AM April 5, 2023
Villegas, Monique Scott win ward races as Taliaferro struggles to hold onto 29th Ward seat

Ald. Gilbert “Gil” Villegas (36th) and Ald. Monique Scott (24th) cruised into another term Tuesday night as Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) remained in a heated race with a community activist vying to lead the West Side ward.

“Drinks on me,” Villegas told a crowd of supporters gathered at Barcocina in West Town. Villegas secured 58% of the votes with 100% of the precincts reporting.


Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th).

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Challenger Lori Torres Whitt, who was backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, received 42% of the votes. Whitt, a teacher at Monroe Elementary School, conceded shortly after 9 p.m.

29th Ward
Meanwhile, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) sought to hold onto his City Council seat after write-in votes forced him into a run-off with CB Johnson, who has worked on substance abuse issues with the nonprofit Campaign for a Drug-Free West Side.

The race was too close to call, but both candidates expressed optimism. Taliaferro received nearly 51% of the votes with 96% of precincts reporting. Johnson garnered about 49% of votes. There were 1,114 outstanding mail-in ballots.

Taliaferro, who was first elected in 2015, said he thought the mail-in ballots would break his way. Still, he said the heated race could change his leadership approach.

collage (2).jpg

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) (left) and CB Johnson.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times; Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“I will have to listen to my residents and look at a different style of leadership to reach those voters who did not support me,” Taliaferro said. He spent the night with his family at the 29th Ward office.

About a block away, Johnson said he felt “confident” he would be victorious.

“This community is in crisis and we all want change,” he told a crowd gathered at his campaign office.

24th Ward
Ald. Monique Scott (24th) declared victory Tuesday night, less than a year after she was appointed to the role after her brother stepped down from the City Council.

Monique Scott secured nearly 67% of the votes with 95% of the precincts reporting. Creative Scott, a small-business owner, received about 33% of the votes. By 10:30 p.m., Creative Scott’s campaign confirmed he conceded.

In North Lawndale, Monique Scott supporters gathered at Soulé and sipped on drinks named “Mo’ for the Win” and “The Alderwoman” while awaiting results. A neon sign stating “Believe in yourself,” overlooked the crowd that listened to pop hits like “Love on Top” by Beyoncé.

For Monique Scott, early results in her favor was the affirmation she needed that the community was backing her not just because her brother, Michael Scott Jr., once led the ward.

“No one can say this is nepotism,” Monique Scott said to the crowd as she declared victory.


Ald. Monique Scott (24th) stands outside of her ward office on the West Side, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

12:25 AM April 5, 2023
Pastor William Hall to replace Ald. Roderick Sawyer in 6th ward; Officer Peter Chico wins in the Southeast Side’s 10th

Three wards on the Far South Side will be sending new faces to the City Council.

In the 6th Ward, Pastor William Hall won the Tuesday runoff against fellow minister Richard Wooten to replace outgoing Ald. Roderick Sawyer.

And in the Southeast Side’s 10th Ward, police Officer Peter Chico finished first over community organizer Ana Guajardo to succeed retiring Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza.

In the 21st Ward, community organizer Ronnie Mosley declared victory despite a narrow lead over retired firefighter Cornell Dantzler, who refused to concede in the runoff to replace outgoing Ald. Howard Brookins Jr.

6th Ward

Hall — backed by the Chicago Teachers Union — led with 57% of the vote over Wooten with all precincts reporting.

The ward — which includes Chatham, Park Manor and Grand Crossing — still has 1,280 mail-in ballots that haven’t been returned, which was less than the gap in votes between candidates.

“The people have spoken,” Hall told the Sun-Times. “I want to say it’s a new day in the 6th Ward. Let’s build on what we’ve got.”

Hall, pastor at St. James Community Church, greeted dozens of supporters at an election night party at the Thea Bowman Lyceum Center, 6550 S. Harvard Ave.


Pastor William Hall, running for alderperson in the 6th Ward, returns to his campaign vehicle after voting Tuesday. Hall will replace outgoing Ald. Roderick Sawyer.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

10th Ward

Chico led with 62% of the vote over Guajardo, with 88% of precincts reporting in the ward where Sadlowski Garza announced her retirement after two terms.

Despite being out-raised by his competitor 2-to-1, Chico still managed to gain overwhelming support in the Southeast Side ward.

Standing before supporters Tuesday night, Chico said: “What we do today, and in the next four years, is going to transform the 10th Ward forever.”


10th Ward aldermanic candidate Peter Chico votes at the Henry Clay School in Chicago Tuesday, 4-4-23.

Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

21st Ward

Mosley was leading with 52.1% of the vote over Dantzler, with all precincts reporting in the 21st Ward, which covers Auburn Gresham and parts of Chatham, Roseland and Washington Heights.

Mosley led by 547 votes out of 12,927 total votes. The ward has nearly 1,600 unreturned vote-by-mail ballots.

Mosley was “calling” the race for himself, according to his spokeswoman, Ebonee Dawson.

But Dantzler was not ready to concede.

“Mr. Dantzler is not going to concede anything,” spokesman Sean Howard said Tuesday night. “We’re going to allow the absentee ballot count to move forward.”


Ronnie Mosley, 21st Ward candidate, submits his vote at Wendell Green Elementary at 1150 W 96th St, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Read the full report from David Struett and Mohammad Samra.

11:46 PM April 4, 2023
Johnson addresses supporters after winning mayor’s race

Brandon Johnson addressed supporters Tuesday night for the first time as Chicago’s mayor-elect.

Sun-Times reporter Nader Issa shared updates on Twitter:

11:24 PM April 4, 2023
No more bagpipes for Vallas

Anxiety grew among supporters at Vallas’ watch party as Johnson’s lead grew.

“I’m anxious, as anyone would be when it’s this close,” said retiring Ald. Tom Tunney, who endorsed Vallas. “It’s going to come down by vote-by-mail … it’ll be razor thin.”

Meanwhile, a band of bagpipers had been preparing to play for guests, but appeared to be leaving the event as Johnson’s lead grew.

Guests included former Alds. Joe Moore, Proco Joe Moreno, Ald. Silvana Tabares, and head of the Illinois Restaurant Association Sam Toia.

11:18 PM April 4, 2023
A lot of new faces to join City Council with a few familiar ones as minority representation inches upward

Despite their ties to an unpopular mayor — who lost her own re-election run in embarrassing fashion — City Council candidates appointed by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot all were leading in their races Tuesday, with two seemingly poised to win and keep their seats for four years.

In the 11th Ward, covering the Daley family’s longtime South Side enclave of Bridgeport, Ald. Nicole Lee declared victory over her opponent, Anthony Ciaravino, a Chicago police instructor.

With all precincts reporting, Lee had nearly 62% of the vote compared to Ciaravino with about 38%, records show.

That translated into more than 2,800 votes for Lee over Ciaravino, more than enough to cover the up to 1,234 mail-in votes that still haven’t been counted, records show.

Lightfoot appointed Lee in March 2022 to replace Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson after he was convicted a month earlier on tax charges and had to step down.

While Lee — the City Council’s first Asian American woman — had been publicly backed by the Daley clan, including Thompson’s uncle, Cook County Commissioner John Daley, Ciaravino’s campaign donors included a number of businessmen with ties to the Daleys.

With Lee’s victory and Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth apparently on track to win in the 48th Ward on the North Side, the number of Asian American City Council members could grow to two.

On the West Side, Ald. Monique Scott has been representing the 24th Ward since Lightfoot appointed her to the post in June to replace her brother, who took a job with Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.

Scott had a strong lead over opponent Creative Scott, who is not related to her, and appeared headed toward victory on Tuesday.

With 95% of precincts reporting, Monique Scott secured nearly 67% of the vote compared to about 33% of the vote for her opponent, who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2019.

The two were more than 2,000 votes apart. There are as many as 687 mail-in ballots still not counted, records show.

Things were tighter in the North Side’s 43rd Ward, which Ald. Timmy Knudsen has represented since Lightfoot appointed him to the seat in September after Michele Smith stepped down.

Knudsen, a former member of Chicago’s zoning board of appeals, had under 52% of the vote to Brian Comer’s more than 48%, with all precincts reporting.

They were more than 500 votes apart, but with as many as 3,380 mail-in ballots still not counted.

That race, like so many across the city, focused significantly on public safety and what many feel is out-of-control crime.

“Since I was appointed back in September, we’ve gotten right to work on crime,” Knudsen, the City Council’s youngest member and the first openly gay person to represent his ward, said in March during a debate.

Of the 14 City Council runoff races on Tuesday’s ballot, six featured incumbents — the three appointed by Lightfoot in 2022, and three others: Ald. James Gardiner in the 45th Ward on the Northwest Side; Ald. Gilbert Villegas in the 36th Ward that was redrawn to include parts of Humboldt Park, among other areas; and Ald. Chris Taliaferro in the 29th Ward that includes Austin.

With all precincts reporting, Gardiner had more than 55% of the vote over opponent Megan Mathias, who was down more than 1,700 votes, though there are as many as 1,992 mail-in ballots still uncounted, records show.

With all precincts reporting, Villegas had about 58% of the vote compared to about 42% for Leonor Torres Whitt.

Villegas was up nearly 1,500 votes, with up to 1,764 mail-in ballots not counted, records show.

Taliaferro was the only incumbent in obvious trouble after polls closed.

With 88% of precincts reporting, he was a handful of votes apart from opponent CB Johnson. Up to 1,114 mail-in votes remain uncounted.

Eight City Council races featured all newcomers, including in the 30th Ward, where Jessica Gutiérrez, the daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, was 260 votes shy of opponent Ruth Cruz with all precincts reporting but up to 1,584 mail-in ballots not counted.

Housing organizer Angela Clay appears poised to be the first Black person to represent the North Side’s 46th Ward, as she secured 55.8% of the votes compared to 44.2% for Walgreens executive Kim Walz, who conceded the race to Clay.

The candidates were about 1,828 votes apart with all precincts reporting, though there were as many as 3,481 uncounted mail-in ballots.

If Clay’s lead holds, the number of Black City Council members will remain the same as 2019 with 20 members.

Read the full report from Robert Herguth and Sophie Sherry.

11:01 PM April 4, 2023
Brandon Johnson wins Chicago mayoral race

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, a paid organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union, will become Chicago’s 57th mayor.

“My name is Brandon Johnson and I can’t wait to be sworn in as the next mayor of the greatest city in the world,” a euphoric Johnson, 47, told his cheering supporters at the Marriott Marquis Chicago, 2121 S. Prairie Ave.


Brandon Johnson walks on stage with his family to speak at his election night party at the Marriott Marquis Chicago after defeating Paul Vallas in the mayoral runoff election, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“To the Chicagoans who did not vote for me, here’s what I want you to know: That I care about you. I value you and I want to hear from you. I want to work with you. And I’ll be the mayor for you, too. Because this campaign has always been about building a better, stronger, safer Chicago for all the people of Chicago.

After an exhausting, five-week battle for the heart and soul of Chicago, Johnson narrowly defeated former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, who led early, only to have Johnson overtake him and stay there.

With 99.6% of precincts reporting, Johnson had 51.42% of the vote to 48.58% for Vallas — a margin of 15,872 votes out of 557,422 cast.

Although 90,000 mail-in ballots remain uncounted, Vallas did not hold out for a full count that would have dragged Election Day into Easter weekend.

He took the podium at the Hyatt Regency Chicago at 9:45 to tell his cheering supporters that he had called Johnson to offer his support to the mayor-elect.

“I ran for mayor to bring this city together and it’s clear, based on the results tonight, that this city is deeply divided. So tonight — even though we believe every vote should be counted — I called Brandon Johnson and told him that I absolutely expect him to be the next mayor of Chicago,” Vallas said.

When some of his supporters shouted, “No,” Vallas admonished them.


Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas delivers his concession speaks during his mayoral runoff election party at the Hyatt Regency’s Recency Ballroom, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“Please, please, please. It’s critically important. This campaign that I ran to bring this city together would not be a campaign that fulfilled my ambitions if this campaign is gonna divide us more. So it’s critically important that we use this opportunity to come together,” Vallas said.

Jason Lee, a senior adviser to the Johnson campaign, was ecstatic about his candidate’s performance.

“We outperformed on the lakefront. The turnout was good. We outperformed on the South Side in terms of the margin. It could be the case that some of the voters on the South Side who felt like they couldn’t vote for us didn’t vote at all,” Lee told the Sun-Times.

With 90,000 absentee ballots uncounted and a 52% return rate, Johnson likely will pad his margin of victory as late-returning mail-in ballots are counted later this week. Several analysts predicted he could win up to 70% of the uncounted absentee votes.

“There’s a lot of votes outstanding. We want those votes to be counted,” Lee said.

Former CTU President Jesse Sharkey, who has gone back to teaching 9th grade civics at South Shore high school, said the success of a CTU-backed candidate is “profoundly gratifying” more than a decade after social justice-oriented leaders took over the union.

In his victory speech, Johnson noted his election comes on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights icon “organized for justice” in Chicago, “dreaming that one day, the civil rights movement and the labor rights movement would come together.” That’s what happened Tuesday, Johnson said.

“The civil rights movement and the labor rights movement have finally collided. We are experiencing the very dream of the greatest man who ever walked the earth,” Johnson said.

“On this very day 55 years ago, Dr. King stood on a balcony. But you all know it’s very clear that one bullet can’t kill a dream.”


Brandon Johnson speaks at his election night party at the Marriott Marquis Chicago after defeating Paul Vallas in the mayoral runoff election, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

He added: “Tonight is the beginning of a Chicago that truly invests in all of its people. ... We will not allow the politics of old to turn us around. ... We don’t have to choose between rich and poor, old and young. We don’t have to choose between toughness and compassion. If tonight is proof of anything, it’s that false choices don’t serve Chicago any longer.”

Just a few months ago, Johnson was a relative unknown, even to some voters in the West Side district he represents on the Cook County Board.

He owes his meteoric rise to the millions in contributions and thousands of campaign foot soldiers provided by the CTU and its affiliates, SEIU Locals 1 and 73, SEIU Heathcare, AFSCME Council 31 and United Working Families.

That support in money and people allowed Johnson to rise above his greatest vulnerabilities: his past support for the concept of defunding the police; fears that his $800 million tax plan would be job killer that would drive businesses out of Chicago; and Vallas’ complaint that Johnson has “never run anything” bigger than a classroom.

Despite an avalanche of business contributions that allowed him to outspend Johnson by a 2 to 1 margin, Vallas could not overcome his own statements — on talk radio, Facebook and Twitter — that left voters in this overwhelmingly Democratic city believing he is an anti-abortion, pro-voucher Republican.

Not even a slew of endorsements from high-profile Democrats featured in Vallas’ television commercials — including retired Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, retired U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin — were enough to erase that perception.

Johnson drove home the point by portraying himself as “the real Democrat” in the race.

The contrast between the two runoff opponents could not have been more stark when it comes to the future of policing, public education and municipal finance.

As Election Day unfolded, early turnout indicators appeared to favor Vallas.

Of the top ten wards for turnout at mid-afternoon, six were Vallas strongholds: the 19th, 41st, 41st, 45th, 43rd, 44th and 2nd Wards. Only two of the top 10 wards — the 46th and 48th — were wards that heavily favored Johnson.

The turnout in several majority African-American wards also appeared to be disappointing at mid-day. And turnout in Hispanic majority wards was as anemic as it had been on Feb. 28.

But the age factor was a key indicator that tilted toward Johnson, with young voters rallying to his cause.

Read the full report from Fran Spielman, Tina Sfondeles and Nader Issa.

10:51 PM April 4, 2023
After tight race for mayor, Black political establishment may face a ‘reckoning’

Chicago chose progress over moderation on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death.

The race for mayor was called in Brandon Johnson’s favor late Tuesday after a long evening when it remained too close to call, an apt metaphor for the political winds of Chicago voters.

Johnson and his opponent Paul Vallas had presented mayoral visions that couldn’t differ more. One focused on investing in people rather than police, the other focused on abating the fear of crime by hiring more officers. One prioritized a future that eschews moderation of progressive politics, while the other could be viewed as protecting the status quo.

Johnson ended up winning the race, but we do know that much of the Black establishment had backed Vallas. Retired Secretary of State Jesse White quickly threw his support behind him once the runoff was determined. Perennial candidate Willie Wilson pleaded with Black voters on Black radio to vote Vallas. Former Congressman Bobby Rush and former Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones put their names on the Vallas list. Alderpersons Emma Mitts, Walter Burnett Jr., Michelle Harris, Derrick Curtis, Roderick Sawyer, Anthony Beale and David Moore used their political capital to vouch for Vallas. There’s a whiff of old-school plantation politics.

Endorsements are a curious Rorschach test. It’s hard to know how much they actually sway voters, but they surely say a lot about the people standing beside a candidate.

Read Natalie Y. Moore’s full column.

10:46 PM April 4, 2023
Vallas concedes mayoral election to Johnson

Paul Vallas has called Brandon Johnson and conceded, a Johnson campaign spokesman says.

Johnson, a former public school teacher and Chicago Teachers Union organizer, is Chicago’s 57th mayor.

Vallas then addressed supporters who gathered for a watch party.

Sun-Times reporter Tina Sfondeles tweeted updates:

10:40 PM April 4, 2023
Former CTU president calls Johnson victory ‘profoundly gratifying’

Former Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey, who has gone back to teaching 9th grade civics at South Shore high school, said it’s “profoundly gratifying” to see a CTU-backed candidate, Brandon Johnson, on the cusp of taking City Hall more than a decade after social justice-oriented leaders took over the union.

“Remarkable. It’s indescribable,” he said. “We put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears into organizing work. And that’s meant something. And for the young people who are coming up in this movement, I hope that they have a similar sense of possibility.”

Sharkey said the city’s progressive movement will still have to fight for recognition — but that’s a new, welcome fight.

“We need to figure out how to actually invest in those neighborhoods and pull people into the political process,” Sharkey said. “I don’t think we have enough power. I think the people who make corporate opinion, I think corporate money and I think the bureaucracy of the city is largely going to be against that program. And I think we’re going to have to organize people and try to build support for a program that’s going to change things.

“We have a whole city and a whole future ahead of us.”

10:34 PM April 4, 2023
AP: Brandon Johnson wins Chicago’s mayor race over Paul Vallas

Brandon Johnson, a union organizer and former teacher, was elected Chicago mayor on Tuesday.

Johnson, a Cook County commissioner endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, won a close race over former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas, who was backed by the police union.

10:31 PM April 4, 2023
Scandal-plagued Gardiner wins re-election in 45th Ward, newcomer holds slim lead in 30th Ward

Embattled Ald. James Gardiner cruised to victory in Tuesday’s election in the 45th Ward, while a political newcomer was besting the daughter of former Congressman Luis Gutiérrez by a slim margin in another Northwest Side race in the 30th Ward.

Gardiner garnered more than 55% of the vote, leading attorney Megan Mathias with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial results. In the other race, Ruth Cruz received over 51% of votes against Jessica Gutiérrez, also with all precincts reporting.

While the races were both still considered too close to call because of mail-in ballots that hadn’t been tallied, Mathias’ campaign conceded as she held a party at a western-themed bar in Edgebrook.

“The beautiful part of this campaign was that it started from a love of the community and grew with the voice of the community,” Mathias said in a statement. “Other people in this race made me a better candidate, and I hope that Alderman Gardiner appreciates that thousands of people expressed a desire for transparency, integrity, and a voice.

As of Monday night, 1,637 and 1,992 votes by mail still needed to be counted in the 30th and 45th wards, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Despite holding the upper hand in the 30th Ward, Cruz said she was “not calling it yet.”

Crime and economic development emerged as key issues in both races on the Northwest Side, where Ald. Ariel Reboyras’ retirement left the 30th Ward field wide open and Gardiner’s scandal-plagued first term hung over his re-election bid.

Read the full report from Tom Schuba and Allison Novelo.

10:19 PM April 4, 2023

Ald. Lee hangs onto 11th Ward seat, as challenger Ciaravino concedes

Incumbent Ald. Nicole Lee held onto her 11th Ward seat Tuesday night as her opponent, Anthony Ciaravino conceded not long after the polls closed.

With all of the precincts reporting the unofficial results showed Lee had received 62% of the vote, while her opponent, Anthony Ciaravino, garnered 38%.

Those numbers could change as mail-in ballots continue to trickle in, but they appear unlikely to challenge Lee’s commanding lead.

Addressing his supporters at the Stockyards Garage, Ciaravino said “It’s not easy, I wasn’t prepared to make a concession speech tonight ... [but] we did some amazing things.”

Lee, the first woman of Asian descent to serve as on the City Council, would also be the first alderperson elected to represent a majority Asian ward in Chicago — a long sought goal of Chinatown leaders.

“I’m so proud that our community answered the call that we fought hard to get a remap and a map that had an Asian majority ward, and that gave us the opportunity,” Lee told WBEZ Tuesday night.”

Read the full report from Matthew Hendrickson and Mary Norkol.

11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee addresses supporters at her watch party.

11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee addresses supporters at her watch party.

Esther Yoon-Ji Kang/Sun-Times

10:10 PM April 4, 2023
Johnson could be on path to winning mayor’s race

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson could be on a path to becoming Chicago’s 57th mayor, after taking a razor-thin lead over Paul Vallas in Tuesday’s election.

With 97% of precincts reporting, Johnson had 51.2% of the vote to 48.8% for Vallas — a margin of just 12,993 votes out of 541,783 cast.

After an exhausting, five-week battle for the heart and soul of Chicago, the race see-sawed back and forth as votes were tallied Tuesday night. Vallas took an early lead, only to have Johnson overtake him.

Jason Lee, a senior adviser to the Johnson campaign, stopped short of claiming victory, but was feeling good about Johnson’s chances.

“We outperformed on the lakefront. The turnout was good. We outperformed on the South Side in terms of the margin. It could be the case that some of the voters on the South Side who felt like they couldn’t vote for us didn’t vote at all. We feel good about the margin,” Lee told the Sun-Times.

“It’s a close race. But we also think the absentees are good for us. Based on our understanding of how the absentees came in on Feb. 28, how our votes are growing and just some modeling that we’ve done on where those absentees are from, we feel very confident about the absentee votes.”

Lee refused to say whether or not Chicago would have to wait for late arriving mail in ballots to be counted before knowing definitively whom its next mayor will be.

With 90,000 absentee ballots uncounted and a 52% return rate, Johnson, a paid organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union, could become the next mayor by winning a narrow majority of those outstanding votes. Several analysts predicted he is likely to win as much as 70% of the uncounted absentee votes.

10:07 PM April 4, 2023
Excitement builds at Johnson watch party as lead continues

Excitement is building at Brandon Johnson’s election night watch party Tuesday evening as the Chicago mayoral candidate holds a narrow lead over Paul Vallas with 95% of precincts reporting.

The crowd has repeatedly cheered with new updates showing Johnson expanding a small advantage over Vallas, whose own election night party has been more subdued with the former Chicago Public Schools CEO falling behind.

Here are more glimpses into the scenes at the watch parties for Johnson and Vallas:

10:02 PM April 4, 2023
With CTU help, Clay claims 46th Ward seat, as Knudsen struggles to hold 43rd Ward appointment

Community organizer Angela Clay won the North Side’s 46th Ward Tuesday night, with the Chicago Teachers Union-backed candidate poised to become the youngest member of the City Council.

She could take that title from Ald. Timmy Knudsen — who was clinging to a narrow lead in his bid to extend his brief tenure in the affluent 43rd Ward, facing a strong showing from runoff challenger Brian Comer.

That tight race unfolded alongside another in the 48th Ward, where organizer Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth led in her bid to become the city’s first Filipina alderperson — but by less than 100 votes over affordable housing developer Joe Dunne.

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, a local business owner and political organizer, takes a selfie with her supporters and volunteers after winning in the 48th Ward race in a runoff on April 4, 2023, at an election night party at Furama restaurant in Uptown.

Victor Hilitski/Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

With 91% of precincts reporting, Clay was carrying 55.3% of the vote compared to 44.7% for business executive Kim Walz, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley. She was backed by her former boss and other establishment Democrats, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Walz conceded less than two hours after the polls closed.

Officials at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners reported nearly 3,400 mail ballots could still make their way in from the ward spanning Lincoln Park, plus parts of Old Town and the Gold Coast. Knudsen and Comer were separated by about 500 votes an hour after the polls closed.

Read the full report from Mitchell Armentrout and Kade Heather.

09:46 PM April 4, 2023
4 takeaways from Chicago’s mayoral election between Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson

Takeaways from Chicago’s mayoral election:

Joe Biden a winner

The runoff found Brandon Johnson galloping toward the center, moving away from his lefty tax-the-rich, defund-the-police pals who are alienating some liberal Democrats who don’t agree with extremist politics.

The runoff showed the more conservative Paul Vallas sprinting away from statements he made about abortion rights while distancing himself from the footsie he played with Republicans.

This Chicago mayoral campaign rivals’ dash to the center is going to be instructive for national Democrats as President Joe Biden seeks a second term and Democrats try to reclaim the House and keep the Senate. Biden’s pragmatic approach to politics and policies is validated — just look at the pivots from the Vallas and Johnson campaigns.

Democrats can use this election as a cautionary case study: Middle-class, older Black voters, whom Democrats absolutely must have to keep the White House and control Congress, are not, writ large, that progressive, especially compared with Chicago’s white voters in the north lakefront wards.


An American flag and a sign that reads, “Vote here,” is posted on the door of a voting site at Joseph Brennemann Elementary School in the Uptown neighborhood on Election Day, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Low youth turnout again

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, two-time Democratic presidential candidate and political figure most popular with young voters, headlined a get-out-the-vote rally last week for Johnson. Sanders’ job was to turn out young voters for Johnson, who captured the support of Chicago’s youth. That is, if they voted.

A column I wrote last week noted that in the first round of mayoral balloting on Feb. 28, of those who voted, only 3.23% were between the ages of 18 and 24.

Early figures from the Chicago Board of Elections — pulled a few hours before polls closed Tuesday — showed that of those who cast a ballot, only 3.30% were between 18 and 24.

Nothing — not the ads, direct mail, digital appeals, robocalls, Bernie’s rally, nothing, triggered a jump in youth turnout.

And that is some takeaway — knowing that in two city elections now, the youngest people in Chicago just don’t want to vote.

Lynn Sweet has more takeaways in her full analysis.

09:31 PM April 4, 2023
Nerves at Vallas’ watch party

Nerves are high among Vallas supporters huddled in front of a television screen projecting election results, as Brandon Johnson took his first lead of the night.

“Oh no!,” Chicagoan Sandra Schneller, who lives in River North, exclaimed as numbers flashed across the screen. “I’m nervous … I’ve heard people tell me, and even some tonight, that if [Johnson] wins, they’re going to move away.”

Schneller cited public safety as her top concern, saying she lives in a “95% walkable community that I can’t walk in anymore” and that she recently got a concealed carry gun license to address her concerns.

Despite Johnson’s tight lead, others remained optimistic, sipping white claw seltzers, wine and nibbling on pizza, chips and dip while watching results.

Dean Vallas, Paul Vallas’s little brother, earlier said he believes tonight will finally be the night Vallas pulls off a political victory, after three previous failed bids that Dean Vallas worked on.

09:29 PM April 4, 2023
Ald. Scott supporters celebrate early lead in 24th Ward

Supporters of Ald. Monique Scott packed Soulé to celebrate the candidate’s early lead.

The 24th Ward alderwoman said being at this West Side restaurant is particularly meaningful to her because “eight years ago we didn’t have this.”

Scott was appointed to replace her brother Michael Scott, Jr., but she said after today, “the community has spoken” that they want her to stick around.

She added that she hopes to “continue economic development” and improve education and housing. Cynthia Manuel, a 24th Ward resident who came out to support Scott said she has been friends with the alderwoman for over 20 years and that she admires her “passion for everyone” and her efforts to clean up the neighborhood.

Eric Evans, a 24th Ward resident and truck driver, said he has never seen an alderperson so “hands-on” and “engaged.”

He added that when he calls the alderwoman’s office with an issue, they always address it quickly. Though Scott has not yet been declared the winner, she fielded hugs and congratulations at the event.

One supporter approached her, tearing up, to tell the alderwoman how proud she was. Scott hugged her, saying, “Now we’ve got work to do.”

09:14 PM April 4, 2023
Ciaravino trails Lee in 11th Ward

Supporters of 11th Ward aldermanic candidate Anthony Ciaravino trickled into Stockyards Garage in New City, where they gathered just over a month prior as Ciaravino secured his position in the runoff against Lori Lightfoot appointee Ald. Nicole Lee.

Voters stood in the garage, chatting and sipping Coca-Cola, Michelob Ultra and Bud Light, awaiting Ciaravino’s arrival as upbeat hits by Whitney Houston and Bill Withers blared over the speakers.

Some were decked out in Ciaravino t-shirts, matching the signs plastered on the walls, while others donned White Sox garb. Signs, pins, flyers and t-shirts displayed Ciaravino’s campaign slogan: “Your safety is my concern.”

Ciaravino was met by whoops, applause and a standing ovation when he entered the garage full of supporters.

Polls showed him trailing by nearly 25 percentage points with more than 90% of precincts reporting.

Ciaravino hugged and shook hands with attendees, making the rounds to tables throughout the event space.

09:04 PM April 4, 2023
Excitement builds at Johnson watch party

Excitement is building at Brandon Johnson’s watch party. Someone just shouted out “50/50!”

Joy Clendenning, a Chicago public schools mom and activist, said she is not surprised at the results so far, and said it makes sense to her that education is the starting point of what she sees as a movement.

“So like housing and mental health and jobs and youth, it’s all what public schools are about,” she said. “So many of us came over around all of those issues for so many decades now and those coalitions are strong. When a leader rises up out of those coalitions, we can win.”

Clendenning’s grown children attended CPS and she still serves on the local school council of Kenwood Academy.

Adrian Rojas, a 32-year-old who works for SEIU, said when he was campaigning for Johnson, he saw a lot of excitement among young people.

He said Johnson’s connection to the labor movement is key to many of them.

“I think young people are starting to wake up and see that the fight for laborers is a big deal,” he said. “I think labor has been neglected for a long time. So I think they’re seeing that reflected in him and really want to support that.”

08:54 PM April 4, 2023
Lee supporters in good spirits at 11th Ward watch party

Family, friends and supporters of 11th Ward Ald. Nicole Lee gathered at her watch party at New Furama restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood as polls closed throughout the ward and city. They said they’re feeling good about their candidate’s chances in her race against Anthony “Tony” Ciaravino.

State Rep. Theresa Mah was among the supporters.

“I’ve seen [Lee’s] hard work over the past year,” Mah said. “She’s very thorough.. and extremely transparent about all the work she does, and that’s the kind of partner I want to have at the city level because there’s a big overlap in the constituents we serve.”

Incumbent Lee was appointed last year by Mayor Lori Lightfoot when former 11th Ward Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson stepped down due to corruption charges.

Mah said she is optimistic that with a Lee victory in the 11th Ward, more Asian American voters will become engaged in the democratic process.


Spencer Ng, owner of Triple Crown Restaurant.

Esther Yoon-Ji Kang/WBEZ

Spencer Ng, owner of Triple Crown Restaurant and lifelong Chinatown resident, said, “I never thought the day would come that “we’ll see Chinatown unite” under one ward and one candidate. “I thought it was gonna be years–the next generation, not my generation,” said Ng, who is a second cousin of Lee.

“The history of Chinatown is that it has always been divided,” Ng said. “You know, divide and conquer, right? But now it’s one person, which is amazing, and she’s one of us… she’s homegrown, born and raised here.”

The 11th Ward — which comprises Chinatown, Armour Square, Bridgeport, Canaryville, and McKinley Park — was redrawn last year to become Chicago’s first-ever Asian-majority ward after years of advocacy by Chinatown community members.


The watch party for Ald. Nicole Lee’s campaign in the 11th Ward at New Furama in Chinatown. The 11th Ward is Chicago’s 1st Asian-majority ward. Lee was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot last year, but now she is poised to become its first elected Chinese American alderperson.

Esther Yoon-Ji Kang/Sun-Times

08:51 PM April 4, 2023
50-50 vote split between Johnson, Vallas

08:50 PM April 4, 2023
Ward race results roll in

Ward race results are pouring in for the 14 runoff races.

It’s looking close in the 48th Ward, where Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth is ahead with 50.81% over Joe Dunne’s 49.19% with roughly 63% of precincts reporting.

Meanwhile in the 45th Ward, Ald. Jim Gardiner is up 9.6 percentage points over Megan Mathias with nearly 83% of the precincts tallied.

Here are some other ward result updates:

08:47 PM April 4, 2023
Mayoral race remains close as results continue to roll in

08:43 PM April 4, 2023
Guajardo supporters gather to watch 10th Ward race results

A small but loud group of supporters are gathering at Thirty65 on the Southeast Side. That’s where 10th Ward Candidate Ana Guajuardo hopes to be celebrating tonight. She’s running against candidate Peter Chico.

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza isn’t seeking reelection after two terms but she is throwing her support behind Guajuardo. She’s even helping to set up tonight’s party at the event space that’s a short distance from Chicago’s border with Indiana and includes the neighborhoods of South Chicago, Hegewisch, South Deering and the East Side.

Chico is a Chicago police officer and a cousin to former Chicago Board of Education president Gary Chico. Chico won 40 percent of the vote in last February’s municipal election, with Guajuardo coming a distant second in a crowded field, getting 27 percent of the vote.

Guajuardo is an Army National Guard veteran and labor organizer.

Both candidates and their families have deep ties to this area’s industrial roots. Guajardo’s father is a retired steelworker, with Chico’s grandfather serving as a president of a local steel union.

Guajardo is also founder of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (United Workers Center) to serve the area’s immigrants and low-income communities.

Fighting pollution is always a concern for this ward, with heavy industry at nearly every turn.

Chico and his supporters will be gathering at the Crow Bar later tonight.

08:22 PM April 4, 2023
Supporters arrive for Johnson watch party

The huge banquet hall at Brandon Johnson’s watch party at the Marriott Marquis near the city’s convention center is slowly filling up. At tables along the sides of the building, people are sitting, looking anxious, while others are getting drinks at the cash bar.

At one table sits two cousins and an aunt and uncle of Brandon Johnson. His cousin Yarkona Hall said when Johnson didn’t like the way things were, he needed to be the one to change things.

“He was the one who would make a difference,” she said. She said she is optimistic that he will win and that the positive change will ripple out to the towns around Chicago.

Hall, lamenting the city’s crime problems, said Johnson’s candidacy has already made her feel different about her safety.

“There’s a different vibe in Chicago,” she said. “People are smiling. They’re speaking to each other. He’s opened up something that we lost a long time ago and it really is hope.”

Johnson's cousin, Yarkona Hall, at the candidate's watch party.

Johnson’s cousin, Yarkona Hall, at the candidate’s watch party.

Sarah Karp/WBEZ

08:05 PM April 4, 2023
Vallas party starting

The glow of two giant projectors with Paul Vallas’ logo filled a ballroom of the Hyatt Hotel downtown as reporters and supporters — including Alds. Walter Burnett, 27th, and Brian Hopkins, 2nd — slowly started to file in before the polls closed at 7 p.m.

Vallas supporter Ivan Rittenberg arrived early donning two Vallas buttons — one on his jacket and another on his flat cap. He said he believes Vallas is the first mayoral candidate he has seen in his life who “isn’t a politician per se,” calling Vallas a technocrat and a “nerd.”

“He’s going to be interested in solving problems and not necessarily doing everything that is politically expedient,” Rittenberg said, adding that public safety is his number one concern as a resident of Lincoln Square on the North Side. “Crime metastasizes, so you have shootings in communities like Lincoln Square that didn’t have shootings and fatalities and murders and crime… and now have it.”

Servers and bartenders uncorked dozens of bottles of wine at a cash bar in preparation, saying they forewent a signature cocktail for the event in anticipation of having so many people to serve.

08:03 PM April 4, 2023
36th Ward voters weigh in on election from the polls

Ayanna Thomas, a lifelong Belmont Cragin resident, didn’t think she was going to make it to her polling place at Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy in the 36th Ward after an hour-long commute from work.

While she made it, she said other young people might skip the polls for other reasons.

“A lot of my family members or friends my age don’t vote because they don’t trust the person they’re voting for,” Thomas, 25, said.

For Thomas, the decision in the aldermanic runoff was easy: she said Gilbert Villegas, current 36th Ward alderperson, helped clean up her neighborhood and spoke to people who’d been leaving trash in the area after her mom contacted his office.

She said that was enough to win her and her family over, and that more politicians should try to work directly with constituents.

Thomas said she didn’t think the weather would make an impact on people who had a big drive to vote because her relatives braved Tuesday’s rain to cast their votes.

“My auntie walked over here, so if she can do it anyone can,” Thomas said. “If you really wanna do it, it doesn’t matter the weather or any other predicament you have.”

Alfredo Alvarez, a 20-year Belmont Cragin resident, agreed, blaming a historical distrust in politicians for Chicago’s past of low voter turnout.

“It’s probably the long history of corruption in the city and the state,” Alvarez said. “Whoever you’re going to vote for is going to play the same game Illinois has been playing for decades.”

While some have said there isn’t enough advertising around Election Day, Alvarez disagrees and said the city does a “good job” of getting the word out.

“We get all these notifications on where to vote, there’s all these resources and early voting, so there’s really no excuse not to vote,” Alvarez said.

08:00 PM April 4, 2023
Polls close in runoff election

Polls have closed in Tuesday’s runoff election, as Chicago prepares to greet its 57th mayor — and residents of 14 wards wait to see who will go on to represent them in City Council.

While some races may be determined before the night’s end, others — such as the mayoral race — may not be known until days after the election, when most of the mail-in ballots are counted.

Every ballot returned by 7 p.m. Monday will be counted on election night. The rest will have to wait. Technically, the Chicago Board of Elections has until April 18 to count all vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by 7 p.m. on election night, Fran Spielman reports.

We’ll keep you up to date with the latest developments here.

Our live results page as well as our homepage will give you the latest reporting from local election precincts. You’ll be able to see complete results for the mayor’s race and all 14 ward runoffs, as well as a ward-by-ward breakdown of how each one voted for mayor.

Our colleagues at WBEZ will also be providing live coverage of the election throughout the day, which you can stream live here or find on the radio at 91.5 FM.

07:26 PM April 4, 2023
Johnson campaign remains optimistic in final hour of voting

Although only two of the top ten wards in turnout are Brandon Johnson strongholds, the Johnson campaign remained optimistic less than an hour before the polls closed.

“We’ve got a higher than expected youth vote. It’s a couple of percentage points higher than it was. The older vote is lower. We feel good about that. We’ve had a modeled electorate where the race has been basically tied. So, any small shift in turnout in your favor can impact the outcome,” Lee said.

“We’ve got to look at the relative weighted turnout. But, we think we’ll still get to where we need to get.”

Lee said he’s not concerned that six of the top ten wards for turnout at mid-afternoon were Vallas strongholds: the 19th, 41st, 45th, 43rd, 44th and 2nd Wards.

“Those are always the top ten wards. Those are where a lot of people vote at. None of that is surprising. That’s all baked into the models,” Lee said.

“But, smaller turnout in way more wards where you have support” can make up for that.

Pressed for a prediction, Lee said, “I’m not in the prediction business. But, I feel good about where we are. The work has been done. The case has been made. We have the better operation out today. We’ve got to squeeze out as many votes as we can from areas that we need to and, hopefully, that’ll be enough to get this done.”

07:05 PM April 4, 2023
30th Ward residents stress importance of voting

Michael Carrasquillo, a 21-year-old resident in the 30th Ward, hasn’t always been interested in local politics.

“I’m in that 18 to 24 age group that doesn’t vote enough,” Carrasquillo said. “Young people are quick to complain on social media, but then they don’t vote.”

Michael said some young people aren’t getting out to vote because they don’t think it makes a difference. But he wants them to know they can speak their mind, and voting is a way to do that.

His mom, Iris Laracuent, has been teaching him to be more locally engaged.

“My mom fought for two years to get our alderman to get lights on our block so that we can feel more safe,” Carrasquillo said.

Less concerned about the outcome of the mayor race, Carrasquillo wants to see the quality of life improvements in the ward.

“I care more about what happens locally now. And I’ve talked to some young people about the ward race, and most of them don’t know how City Council works or even what an alderman is,” Carrasquillo said.

He wants other young people to know they can speak their minds and voting is a way to do that.

For Laracuent, she wants the ward to be a safer, thriving place for her kids and grandchildren.

“I always speak my mind and I teach my kids to do the same,” Laracuent said. “I care about what’s left behind for my kids, my grandkids in the future. I want better for them.”

They both have been campaigning for Jessica Gutiérrez, who is facing Ruth Cruz in the runoff race for the 30th Ward council seat.

Lenny Zieben came out to vote with his family at Jonathan Scammen Public School Tuesday afternoon.

He’s concerned about schools and access to and funding for public services, like the city’s parks.

He brought his kids along “to show them how the be a part of the democratic process,” Zieben said.

Throughout the runoff, he’s been disappointed by the negativity between the campaigns for Cruz and Gutiérrez.

“It’s really too bad. My Facebook feed has just been filled with attacks between the two,” he said.


Michael Carrasquillo and his mother Iris Laracuent outside Jonathan Scammon Public School.

Kaitlin Washburn/Sun-Times

05:46 PM April 4, 2023
Early turnout appears to favor Vallas

Early turnout indicators appeared to favor Paul Vallas.

Of the top ten wards for turnout at mid-afternoon, six were Vallas strongholds: the 19th, 41st, 45th, 43rd, 44th and 2nd Wards. Two of the top ten wards — the 46th and 48th — were wards that heavily favored Johnson. Of the remaining two — the 47th was likely to be won by Johnson, but narrowly. The other is the 32nd, which Vallas won handily on Feb. 28 and has a chance to win it again, although more narrowly.

The turnout in several majority African-American wards was also under 20% at mid-afternoon, well below what Johnson needed it to be. Those wards included: the 7th (18.9%); 9th (19.2%); 15th (13%); 16th (13.3%); 17th (17%); 20th (16.6%); 24th (16.1%); 28th (15.1%) and 37th (15.7%).

Hispanic majority wards were viewed as a key battleground. Vallas was hoping to get over 60% of the Latino vote after winning the Hispanic majority 10th and 30th Wards in Round One. Johnson was trying to prevent that from happening after winning the coveted endorsement of vanquished mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

There, turnout was every bit as anemic as it was on Feb. 28. By mid-afternoon, Hispanic wards were recording some of the lowest turnouts in the city, including the: 12th (17.1%); 14th (12.4%); 15th (13%); 22nd (13.6%) and 31st (15.5%).

Mayoral Candidate Paul Vallas looks up as he votes at Robert Healy Elementary School at 3010 S. Parnell Ave., Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Mayoral Candidate Paul Vallas votes at Robert Healy Elementary School at 3010 S. Parnell Ave., Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The age factor was yet another cautionary sign for Johnson.

Normally, 32% of the Chicago electorate is 45 and under. Johnson needed to drive that number up by four or five percentage points. By 3 p.m., the share of voters under 45 was 34.1%, short of what Johnson needed it to be.

After reading all of those early tea leaves, veteran political consultant Frank Calabrese, who is not affiliated with either campaign, said, “Black ward turnout is not particularly high. And when you look at the wards that are turning out, it’s Vallas’ best wards. I’m very certain that, based on the turnout, Paul [Vallas] will have the most votes tonight. The only question is, will it be enough for Vallas to declare victory and Johnson to concede.”

He added, “Brandon Johnson was banking on this kind of rainbow coalition type of campaign with minority votes at a high level and it doesn’t look like that’s panning out. It looks like areas that voted for Vallas in February are voting at the highest levels and areas that potentially could go for Brandon Johnson are not seeing an increase in voter turnout. This election is all about turnout and according to the turnout number, Vallas has a very significant advantage.”

After analyzing Johnson’s “mail-in ballot performance,” Calabrese predicted that Johnson would win 70% of the votes by mail that are returned, but have not yet been counted. With roughly 90,000 of uncounted votes by mail and a return rate of roughly 52%, that would mean that Johnson can expect to pick up 32,760 votes.

If Vallas is up by more than 32,760 votes by the end of the night, Calabrese said, “I think he can declare victory tonight and the media can call him the next mayor.”

05:41 PM April 4, 2023
Voters give their takes on low voter turnout in 16th Ward

At Perkins Bass Elementary School in Englewood, a 16th Ward polling place, a slow stream of voters had trickled in throughout the day.

With four hours left until polls closed, 43 of the 970 registered voters assigned to the elementary school polling place had shown up, though it’s unclear how many voted early or by mail. One election judge, who didn’t want to be named, said the turnout was “way less” than usual — a dire statement given the 16th Ward had less than 22% of registered voters fill out ballots in February.

The latest figures from the Chicago Board of Elections show a 13.3% turnout in the 16th Ward as of 1 p.m. making it one of four wards below 15% at the time.

Sheri Dysoin, a lifelong Englewood resident, said people have become disillusioned by politics because of the city’s history of disinvestment in neighborhoods like hers.

“People feel that no matter what, their opinion is not gonna count cause they live in Englewood,” Dysoin said. “I think people just gave up on politics because they figure they’re not gonna invest whatever money they ve got in this neighborhood. ... We’re gonna get the worst of things anyways.”

Dysoin also mentioned the lack of car ownership in the neighborhood being a barrier to getting to the polls.

Her niece, Kendra Holyfield, agreed, saying Racine Avenue alone is a physical barrier to voting because people don’t want to cross it. She also suggested more polling places be added to make it easier for voters to get where they need to be.

Holyfield, 35, brought her 12-year-old daughter, who goes by Kendra II, to vote, a move Dysoin applauded as a way to get young voters to the polls.

“We need somebody new that has lived where we’re from and has seen how things operate,” Holyfield said. “We need something for the kids out here.”

Kendra II suggested the next mayor implement three-day weekends for school kids.

Kendra Holyfield and her daughter Kendra pose in front of 16th Ward polling place, Perkins Bass Elementary School in Englewood.

Kendra Holyfield and her daughter Kendra pose in front of 16th Ward polling place, Perkins Bass Elementary School in Englewood.

Violet Miller/Sun-Times

04:37 PM April 4, 2023
Lincoln Park voters say they’re concerned about public safety

Susan Silver, a Lincoln Park resident, has been torn over who to vote for mayor, stuck between the Chicago Teachers Union-backed Johnson and Fraternal Order of Police-endorsed Vallas.

“I hate the CTU and I hate the FOP,” Silver said outside Lincoln Park High School in the 43rd Ward. “So, I really had to hold my nose and vote.”

Regardless of who wins, Silver said she wants public safety to be improved in the city.

She’s also disappointed by the lower voter turnout for this year’s municipal elections.

“It’s my civic duty to vote,” Silver said. “It’s a really important thing to do. And people do not appreciate what an amazing thing it is.”

Aaron Bilgin, a 54-year-old investor and Lincoln Park resident, is also worried about safety, especially for his young children.

He has lived in Chicago for 28 years, and he said he worries about the direction the city is headed.

“As a citizen, I’m just asking for safety,” Bilgin said. “I want to feel safe, I want my kids to feel safe. We as Chicagoans deserve better.”

03:25 PM April 4, 2023
In Chatham, voters focused on youth and outreach

Betty Archie, a 40-year Chatham resident, went to cast her vote for mayor and alderperson Tuesday afternoon at Simeon Career Academy in the 6th Ward, which also served as a polling place for some 21st Ward residents.

Archie said her decision was made by candidates knocking on her door — which she said Johnson and 6th Ward aldermanic candidate William Hall, who she voted for in February and Tuesday afternoon, did.

“(Johnson) came to my building and I talked to him, so I voted for him,” Archie said. “(Hall) came and talked to us also and helped the seniors.”

Archie said candidates “being visible” and allowing people to “tell them their needs” was all she needed from politicians to earn her vote.

“The rest of them didn’t even come by,” Archie said.

Chatham resident Betty Archie said in-person outreach by candidates made a difference.

Chatham resident Betty Archie said in-person outreach by candidates made a difference.

Violet Miller/Sun-Times

While Laura Cope, a Chatham resident for more than 20 years, didn’t meet the candidates or know who was running in the 21st outside the signs her friends had put up, she still wanted to stress the importance of voting to her 14-year-old son Malik Gist.

She said he helped her fill out her ballot with things he’d learned at school.

“As soon as he hits that age mark, he’ll be voting too,” Cope said. “Every vote counts.”

Despite her encouraging her son to vote, Cope said she was worried about the sincerity of politicians running for office in this cycle.

“I hope they’re not just doing this talking to get into the mayor’s office,” Cope said. “I am hoping whoever gets in there does something better.”

Cope said her biggest concern was how crime was affecting kids, including her son. She said safe recreational spaces for youth was the key.

“Instead of these gas stations and car washes, open a community center where our kids can go and get off the street,” Cope said, mentioning that Gist often goes to play basketball with his dad at one near their home.

Laura Cope brought her 14-year-old son Malik Gist with her to vote at Simeon Career Academy on Tuesday.

Laura Cope brought her 14-year-old son Malik Gist with her to vote at Simeon Career Academy on Tuesday.

Violet Miller/Sun-Times

George Wilkinson, who also went to cast his vote at Simeon Career Academy Tuesday afternoon, agreed.

The 65-year-old said whoever becomes the next mayor should take after former Mayor Jane Byrne in focusing on youth to stop crime.

“You’re gonna have to find some kind of programs that keep young people involved in things, otherwise their only outlet is the street,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said he’d previously voted for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, but that her downfall was an inability to affect crime and retain police officers — something he thinks will plague the next mayor as well.

“You’ve gotta stop the outflow (of police officers),” Wilkinson said, adding that he feels the two candidates’ policies of hiring more police officers would be null otherwise.

Regardless, he said voting was something he’s always done, noting that the country is always “just one election away” from taking a sharp turn sideways.

“It’s a right, it’s a privilege and it’s an honor,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a necessary part of our democracy.”


George Wilkinson, who voted Tuesday afternoon at Simeon Career Academy, said the next mayor should focus on youth to reduce crime.

Violet Miller/Sun-Times

02:29 PM April 4, 2023
About 36-38% of voters expected to cast ballots based on early turnout

There’s been a slight bump in voter turnout so far for Tuesday’s runoff race compared to the February election, said Max Bever, director of public information for the Chicago Board of Elections, in an afternoon update.

Things started off slow in the morning, but at around 11 a.m., polling places started seeing a couple thousand more voters than they did in February at that time, Bever said.

“It’s been a smooth and orderly Election Day so far,” he said.

Early voting was strong over the past couple weeks. Monday broke a record for early voting in a single day with about 30,000 people voting, likely to avoid Tuesday’s chance of storms.

However, overall turnout is on track to be at about 36-38% citywide, Bever said.

“It’s looking like a slow and sleepy Election Day,” he said.

The 18-to-24 year-old turnout also remains stubbornly low, Bever said.

“This has been an unfortunate trend with young people decade over decade, with 18 to 24 year olds voting less,” he said. “It’s not the same for presidential elections, where we see much higher youth turnout.”

That’s unfortunate, Bever said, considering that the mayoral election has a greater impact on young people than the presidential election.

The Northwest and Southwest Sides and along the lakefront have had the strongest voter turnout so far. The wards with the highest amounts are the 19th, 47th, 41st, 45th and 43rd, Bever said.

Operations at polling places have been running smooth — only 14 had a late start Tuesday morning and there haven’t been any major complaints so far, Bever said.

“The Chicago tradition of a drunk election judge has not held true today,” he said.

Lower turnout does mean that the Board of Elections will likely have the majority of precincts reporting results before 8 p.m. Tuesday evening.

But the Board has till April 18 to tally all votes, including the outstanding 90,000 vote-by-mail ballots.

01:47 PM April 4, 2023
Turnout ‘closely matching’ February but starting to pick up, Board of Elections says

After record-breaking early voting during Chicago’s mayoral race, the turnout on Election Day so far has been slow, just like during the first round five weeks ago.

Max Bever of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners says the heaviest turnout, once again, has been on the Northwest and Southwest sides and parts of the lakefront.

“The turnout that we’ve seen since 6 a.m. is closely matching what we just saw on Feb. 28 but it is improving as the hours go along,” Bever said.

Polls citywide are open until 7 p.m. but Bever urged voting as soon as possible due to predicted stormy weather this afternoon.

The board last night reported that 184,723 people had cast their ballots before Election Day.

Bever said those votes will be included in the results announced tonight.

01:29 PM April 4, 2023
Beagles and ballots in the 48th Ward

Lora Chamberlain came out Tuesday morning with her beagle, Donna, to vote at Stephen Hayt Elementary School in the 48th Ward.

“This is a super important election. The differences between mayoral candidates is so stark. I don’t get the lack of urgency or why people aren’t taking it more seriously,” said Chamberlain, an Edgewater resident.

She does election protection work with the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, which trains people on election law and how to be an election judge and poll watcher.

Her work focuses on ensuring election integrity by making it easier and more accessible for anyone to vote.

Chamberlain said she does understand why voters might feel overwhelmed with choosing between two starkly different candidates. But she says the election is just a snapshot, it’s more about what they can do once in office.

“I encourage people to do their own research and look at what the candidates have done, not so much what they say,” she said.

“People can say a lot, but what they are actually able to accomplish is the difference.”


Lora Chamberlain brought her beagle, Donna, with her to vote at Stephen Hayt Elementary School in the 48th Ward on Tuesday morning.

Kaitlin Washburn/Sun-Times

01:04 PM April 4, 2023
19th Ward voters turned out for Vallas in February. Will they come out again?

At Morgan Park High School in the 19th Ward, a more consistent stream of voters entered to cast ballots. The ward was on the higher end of turnout during the general election, where 58% of registered voters cast their ballot.

The area overwhelmingly chose Paul Vallas in the February election, where he garnered about 61% of the 19th Ward’s vote to Brandon Johnson’s nearly 10%.

Vallas supporters coming in to vote Monday morning seemed to agree that he was the candidate they felt would handle public safety best — though Valerie Thomas, a lifelong Morgan Park resident, said she came out to support Vallas because of his past with CPS.

“I have a little more confidence in him because of his background in education,” Thomas, 57, said, noting she disagreed with Johnson’s stance on policing. “I think (Vallas) will do well with the teacher’s union even though they’re not for him, I think he’ll work things out with them.”

Many of Vallas’ detractors at the polling place said they had worked in education.

Dean Thompson, a former principal at Dunne STEM Academy, said he came out to vote because of his history with Vallas.

“I worked with Paul Vallas and some of his actions are why I’m here, so I can avoid seeing him again,” Thompson, 79, said. “Sometimes Paul has not been the person to stick with something, even after we had a conversation about it.”

Thompson said Vallas would often push issues off even when parents and educators brought issues to his attention. He worries that way of handling hardship would extend to the mayor’s office if Vallas was elected.

Thompson’s opposition to Vallas didn’t directly translate to immediate support for Johnson, who he said could change his stance on policing.

“We’re not for defunding the police,” his wife, Renee, who came to vote with him, said, but then conceded, “(The police) do need to not be so loyal to each other and get rid of the ones that are bad.”

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Dean and Renee Thompson voted at Morgan Park High School on Tuesday morning.

Violet Miller/Sun-Times

The couple weren’t alone in voting for Johnson because of their disdain for Vallas.

Joseph Craan, a City Colleges of Chicago math professor, said he voted for Johnson due to some of his views, but his decision was made after looking at Vallas’ record in Chicago.

“It’s not just (Johnson’s) policies, but (Vallas) was in charge of CPS before, so you have to look at the record,” he said shortly before comparing it to getting back together with an ex. “Do you give the same person a second chance or do you try something else?”


Joseph Craan, a City Colleges of Chicago math professor, said he voted for Brandon Johnson based on Paul Vallas’s record in Chicago.

Violet Miller/Sun-Times

11:38 AM April 4, 2023
Crime top of voters’ minds in 45th Ward

Vincent Feldman, an 18-year-old senior at Notre Dame College Prep, voted for the first time in February and came out again for Tuesday’s runoff.

“It’s very important to come out and vote,” Feldman said. “I’m super passionate about politics.”

He’s headed to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the fall to study political science and business.

Feldman said he’s disappointed about the low voter turnout among young people.

“It’s a shame. Young people should be excited to be able to vote,” he said. “In some countries, people don’t have the right to vote like we have.”

The issues top of mind for Feldman are crime, economics and love.

“We need more love in this city. There’s not a lot of brotherhood and sisterhood and we need to come together and strengthen communities,” Feldman said.

He also came out Tuesday to volunteer for Ald. Jim Gardiner, who is facing Megan Mathias in the runoff.

“I think he’s the right man for the job. For me, I’m big on community service and so is Jim,” Feldman said.

Andres Cuadra, a Chicago police detective, stopped by Wildwood Elementary to vote Tuesday morning.

“This is an important election. And things aren’t going well in the city,” Cuadra said.

Crime is the most important issue facing Chicago, Cuadra said. He’d like to see a larger police presence and incentives to keep current officers on the force.


Vincent Feldman, an 18-year-old senior at Notre Dame College Prep, voted for the first time in February. He came out Tuesday to vote for the second time and volunteer for 45th Ward Ald. Jim Gardiner.

Kaitlin Washburn/Sun-Times

11:00 AM April 4, 2023
North Side polling place quiet because so many people voted early

Inside the basement of the Welles Park fieldhouse on the North Side, only a handful of voters had trickled in within an hour of the polls opening at 6 a.m.

The big rush was yesterday, when more than 1,000 people voted early, said Ben Maldonado, in charge of the election judges there.

After he cast his ballot, Michael Turco, 30, said he had just registered to vote in Chicago. He moved from San Francisco about six months ago. He cast his ballot for former Chicago Public Schools head Paul Vallas.

“I think he’s got the right messaging for public safety and crime, which I think is the big issue for the city,” Turco said. “I like that he’s talking about it in a way that he’s kind of serious about it, feels like he’s been a little bit tough on it, and doesn’t want to tolerate it anymore.”

So did Bryan McMillan, who slipped his ballot that he filled out at home into a dropbox.

“I think it’s a clear choice between two different visions for Chicago,” McMillan said. “Honestly I don’t think (Vallas) is going to save the city. I think the city is in really bad shape, but I think he would do better than the other guy.”

McMillan, 48, has three children at nearby Waters Elementary School. He said he thinks the Chicago Teachers Union, which has gained more political power over the years, is “problematic.” It’s not that Vallas could do much about it, McMillan said, but that Vallas’s opponent, CTU organizer and former public schools teacher Brandon Johnson, would help the union rather than try to stop its momentum.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CTU refused to teach in-person for several days in January 2022 as the omicron variant surged, while Mayor Lori Lightfoot wanted kids back in the classroom. Vallas and Johnson have radically different approaches to how to fix Chicago’s public school system.

A recent Northwestern University poll of likely voters had the two candidates in a neck-and-neck race.

While the voters were slowly making their way to the ballot box at Welles Park, the handful of polling judges swapped tales of their history working the polls. Many had been there all day for at least the last two weeks, during the stretch of early voting.

“This neighborhood — this is the 47th Ward — they always come out,’ said Deborah Joshua, an election judge since 2016. “I call them the fabulous 47… It’s the same faces, the same people who come. They know me when they come in because I’ve been sitting here every election. They’re kind of like, ‘Hey girl. How you doing?’”

Then she turned to a woman who had just registered to vote.

“So you got it together?” Joshua asked.

“I got it. I voted!” the woman shot back.

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Only a handful of voters had trickled into the basement of the Welles Park fieldhouse within an hour of the polls opening at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

Kristen Schorsch/WBEZ

10:33 AM April 4, 2023
Voters in West Pullman say they’re looking for a change in mayor’s office

Kirk Simmons was among a handful of voters casting ballots at Higgins Community Academy in West Pullman Tuesday morning.

He said public safety and economic development, specifically jobs, were the biggest issues for him, but that it boiled down to “somebody who’s gonna do some good, especially for the South Side.”

While Simmons said both mayoral candidates are “fairly decent,” but voted for Johnson because he “understands what people are going through” living in an “impoverished community” on the West Side.

“(Vallas) has been all over,” Simmons said. “Not to say (Vallas) won’t do good for the South Side, but if someone’s living in the area, they see what’s going on every day. They see the crime, they see the poverty, their kids are there, they’re living in it.”

Beyond that, though, Simmons said he saw Vallas as a part of an aging group of politicians that hasn’t made the changes he’s wanted to see.

“I don’t want the same old politics, Vallas has been around a long time,” Simmons said. “Brandon Johnson is a new person with fresh new ideas, so hopefully we’ll see what happens.”

Tanieka Smith, stopped to vote at Higgins on her way to work, donning her U.S. Postal Service jacket into the voting booth.

She, much like Simmons, said the biggest factor in her voting was looking for a change, though she declined to say who she thought would do that best.

“We need a change,” Smith said of both the mayoral and aldermanic offices. “People are looking for something different. Mayor Lightfoot, everyone thought she was gonna come in and do something, but she didn’t.”

The 42-year-old said she missed the February vote after she slept in too late and then got stuck at work, though she said she would’ve voted for Willie Wilson.

Smith, whose main issues were public safety and education, said her youngest child is now a senior in high school but struggled during the pandemic.

She said she’d like to see more funding for schools and smaller classroom sizes to help kids catch up.

“COVID really put our kids back,” Smith said. “And the kids is the future.”


Kirk Simmons was among a handful of voters at Higgins Community Academy in West Pullman early Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Violet Miller/Sun-Times

09:18 AM April 4, 2023
Runoff outcomes may not be known for days

After $18 million in campaign spending and a five-week battle for the heart and soul of Chicago, it’s finally up to voters to decide whether to make Paul Vallas or Brandon Johnson the city’s 57th mayor.

Try not to hold your breath for the final outcome. The winner may not be known for days.

“I highly doubt either camp will concede on election night because up to 100,000 votes may not be counted when we go to bed on election night,” said pollster Matt Podgorski of M3 Strategies, whose polling correctly placed the top four finishers in Round One of the mayoral sweepstakes within roughly half a percentage point.

“Folks who have a pretty good idea of which way the late ballots break will be able to have a pretty good idea of who’s gonna win on election night,” Podgorski added. “But no one’s going to concede if there’s enough outstanding ballots for it to make a difference.”

Election Board spokesperson Max Bever agreed even a 4-percentage-point gap between Vallas and Johnson on Tuesday night might not be safe.

Read the full story on why winners might not be declared tonight.

08:32 AM April 4, 2023
Chicagoans hit the polls Tuesday for the runoffs with one key question: Vallas or Johnson?

Chicagoans will hit the polls Tuesday with one big question facing them: Paul Vallas or Brandon Johnson? The two mayoral candidates have vastly different visions for the city’s finances, schools and public safety issues.

Tuesday’s election is the culmination of a yearlong mayoral election season where attacks have grown increasingly hostile as the two candidates have tried to paint each other as too radical to lead the nation’s third-largest city.

Three key issues that have faced Vallas and Johnson are public safety, union support, and race. For example, Vallas has repeatedly put a spotlight on Johnson’s past support for “defunding the police” — a stance that Johnson has worked to distance himself from. The two candidates also have very different visions for Chicago Public Schools.

WBEZ’s Tessa Weinberg and Mariah Woelfel have more on the big mayoral showdown.

08:06 AM April 4, 2023
Follow Sun-Times and WBEZ runoff coverage on April’s Election Day

Six weeks after the first leg of the Chicago citywide elections, we’re back for the runoffs!

Chicagoans will decide today between former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson — two mayoral candidates who have vastly different visions for the city’s finances, schools and public safety issues. There are also 14 City Council seats still undecided.

Just like last time, the Sun-Times and WBEZ will have journalists at polls and campaign parties throughout the city to provide you latest vital reporting on the election. Make sure to follow along with this live blog, which we’ll be updating throughout the day with voter reaction and more from the polls.

And of course, voter resources! Check out our runoff voter guide, City Council runoff coverage, and an explainer on why results might not be called tonight.

We’re able to provide this coverage — free of a paywall — thanks to the support of our members. If you’re not yet a Sun-Times member, please consider becoming one today to help us serve our city.