Brandon Johnson was sworn in Monday as Chicago’s 57th mayor with a promise to “write the story of our children’s and our grandchildren’s futures” by confronting the city’s enormous challenges in a way that summons, what he called the “soul of Chicago.”
“What will that story say? That Chicago with its sturdy shoulders and its diverse economy and the legacy of all of our generosity was too afraid to stand up? Is that what our story will say?” Johnson said, as a smattering of “no’s” could be heard from the crowd at Credit 1 Arena.
“We get to tell a different story. I’m talking about a story that binds us together. We don’t want our story to be told that we were unable to house the unhoused or provide safe harbor for those who are seeking safe refuge here because there’s enough room for everyone in the city of Chicago — whether you are seeking asylum or looking for a fully-funded neighborhood. We don’t want our story to say that we did not invest in all of the people and all of the communities that make our city great. We don’t want that to be our story. We cannot afford to get it wrong Chicago. We don’t want a Chicago that has been overwhelmed by the traumatization of violence and despair that our residents felt no hope or no choice but to leave.”
The inauguration started with the introduction of the newly-elected City Council, which includes 16 fresh faces; a record 14 Hispanics; 18 women, matching a previous all-time high; and nine members who identify as LGBTQ. The average age is 47. That’s nearly four years younger than the average age of the old Council.
Johnson owes his meteoric rise to the millions of dollars in campaign contributions and foot soldiers provided by the Chicago Teachers Union, Service Employees Union Locals 1, 73 and Health Care, United Working Families and the Grassroots Collaborative.
Seats on the dais were reserved for the leaders of those unions and community organizations, underscoring the pivotal roles those unions and organizations will undoubtedly continue to play in Johnson’s administration.
The loudest ovations were heard when CTU President Stacy Davis Gates and her Vice-President Jackson Potter were introduced. Loud ovations also greeted Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative and Grassroots Illinois Action and Emma Tai, executive director of United Working Families, where Davis Gates serves as chair.
At 10:59 a.m., a beaming and clapping Johnson was introduced to the crowd, followed by his wife, Stacie and their three children: Owen, 15; Ethan 11 and Braedyn, 8.
The new mayor was dressed for the season in a pale green suit and matching tie. His wife wore a black dress offset by a pearl necklace. Owen was wearing an open collared white shirt and a slightly darker suit. Ethan’s suit matched his older brother’s, but with a tie. Braedyn wore a white summer dress the opposite of her mom.
Shortly before 11;15 a.m., Mayor Lori Lightfoot banged the gavel for the final time calling, what is technically a ceremonial City Council meeting to order.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the peaceful transfer of power,” said the outgoing mayor, who got a warm and sustained reception when she and First Lady Amy Eshleman were introduced to the crowd.
After the City Council approved the bond for the new mayor and the motion was seconded by Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), the crowd cheered.
In a magnanimous and unexpected gesture of goodwill, Johnson hugged Lighfoot, who had just executed her last official act as the 56th mayor of Chicago. The outgoing mayor responded in kind, shaking the hands of Johnson’s wife and three children to congratulate the new first family.
At 11:50 a.m., Johnson, 47, took the oath of office surrounded by his young family. wife, Stacie, and their three children: Owen, 15; Ethan, 11, and Braedyn, 8.
In the audience was his 80-year-old father Andrew, a pastor whose example and spiritual guidance the new mayor has followed his entire life.
In 2006, Stacie Johnson spent a year as an intern at WBEZ-FM Radio, the Chicago Sun-Times news partner. She subsequently spent five years as a staff assistant to then-29th Ward Ald. Deborah Graham, followed by one year as an assistant to State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the current Senate president.
Stacie Johnson has been described by her husband of 25 years as “brilliant” and an “incredible writer” who played a role in crafting his inspirational inaugural address.
“Stacie, your love and care for Chicago is only dwarfed by your love for our family. Thank you for everything you do and everything you will do for Chicago,” the new mayor told his wife.
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May 15, 2023 at 01:30PM