As a public school teacher, union organizer and Cook County commissioner, Brandon is the only candidate who has been a leader in our communities in the fights for fully funded public schools, affordable housing, green jobs and access to mental health care. As mayor, he will provide the leadership to put Chicago on the right track. Brandon stands for the people, not entrenched special interests and political insiders. He will advance smart, innovative solutions that address the root causes of violence and poverty.

Affordable Housing

Everyone in Chicago deserves to have a roof over their head. That’s not just the right thing to do morally, it’s a smart approach to keeping our neighborhoods safe and strong. We create public safety by directly addressing the poverty, economic, racial and environmental injustice that creates disorder in many Chicago communities. This will allow us to promote student achievement, and grow the jobs and resources Chicago needs. The cornerstone of that vision is our ability to confront our city’s housing crisis.

Homelessness has long been a problem in Chicago, and families have always struggled to make the rent. But Chicagoans know that these days, making rent or the mortgage payment is harder than it’s been for a very long time. Here in Chicago, homelessness is up 12% since 2019. It is a moral crisis that on freezing January nights, we have 1,500 Chicagoans sleeping out in the cold. It is an outrage that one quarter of renters pay more than half of their paychecks just to make the rent, with little left over for other necessities. And it is an injustice that one-in-four Black students in Chicago Public Schools experience homelessness at least once during their lives.

The status quo is unacceptable, and the people of our city deserve better. The bottom line is this: We need more housing for those at every income level, so that from public housing to affordable housing, Chicagoans can afford to stay in our city and raise families here. We need a City Hall that will “Bring Chicago Home,” delivering real funding to house the unhoused and combat homelessness. And we need a Chicago that keeps pathways to home ownership alive, so that Chicago’s homes aren’t all purchased by private equity firms and the wealthy few.

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Arts & Culture

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on America’s arts sector. According to a report from Americans for the Arts, 63% of artists experienced unemployment and 95% lost creative income at the height of the pandemic, with BIPOC artists seeing higher rates of unemployment than white artists. With Chicago having the nation’s third largest artist labor force, employing over 63,000 artists, 31% being self-employed, it is the duty of the mayor to ensure that Chicago’s artists, art workers, and cultural producers have access to the financial support and stability needed to continue shaping our city’s vibrant and innovative arts community.

As mayor, Brandon Johnson will be a champion for art workers across the city demanding safe working conditions, pay transparency, and more accessible funding opportunities. Brandon will break down the gatekeeping to Chicago’s arts resources, ensure Chicago Public Schools have the funding needed to prioritize arts education and after school programs that provide young Chicagoans a safe place to get creative and find joy, and be a vocal ally in funding public art that allows the most marginalized voices in Chicago the necessary platforms to tell their stories and preserve our histories.

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City Budget & Revenue

No one should be too poor to live in one of the richest cities in the world. As mayor, Brandon will work to make the wealthy pay their fair share and get our city’s budget priorities in order, just as he did as a teacher, organizer and Cook County commissioner.

We need to start by getting the city’s finances in order. For too long, including under the current mayor, we’ve been kicking the can down the road. The longer we do that, the worse the eventual cost will be and the longer we’ll have to keep paying off yesterday’s mistakes instead of making needed investments in a better tomorrow. I have a detailed plan to pay down our debts while ramping up needed investments.

These investments include not just needed infrastructure but also investments in housing, health, mental health and child care. We also need investment in education and training to ensure that we can attract better jobs in growing industries, and that Chicagoans can hold those jobs. I will ramp up investments in these areas over four years to $1 billion per year, and pay for them by reducing unneeded and wasteful spending in other areas.

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Disability Justice

Approximately 10% of Chicagoans identify as a person with a disability, a number that will only rise with increases in long COVID-19 and other challenges. The longer you live, the more likely you are to acquire a disability over time. Disability is not just about some people, it’s about all of us.

The Mayor’s Office plays an important role in the policies that impact people with disabilities most, and their ability to live independently in communities. As mayor, Brandon will strategically center the needs of people with disabilities, focusing on needed supports, accessibility, and inter-agency coordination. Hearing disabled people and then taking actions on their recommendations is the key.

As mayor, he will commit not only to accessibility, but to real access to City programs and services that help people with disabilities become more economically secure and better supported in their home communities.

The city’s most disinvested neighborhoods are also the ones with the most people with disabilities. Brandon Johnson's plan to invest in neighborhoods across the city is a plan to invest in disability justice. Economic security and community inclusion for people with disabilities is about accessible jobs, housing, education, social services, transportation, public safety, and other resources integrated in every neighborhood and community.

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As a former teacher, Brandon is passionate about making sure that every student in Chicago – regardless of their race, income or zip code – receives a fully resourced, supportive, safe and healthy learning environment. As mayor, he will work to expand sustainable community schools from pre-kindergarten to the City Colleges, providing academic, health and social support beyond the school day.

We are a decade removed from with the greatest closure of Black and Latinx schools in Chicago’s history. If we can build sustainable community schools alongside quality affordable housing, we will reverse the trend. We must also tackle the violence epidemic with more holistic measures that provide resources and trauma intervention for students and families.  

Pre-kindergarten enrollment has declined precipitously in recent years. This is not simply a result of demographic change, but the district moving to an online, centralized application process for preschool that is elitist and prejudiced against families with little access to technology. Enrollment also decreases due to poor program design. This is also evident in a number of special education crises – from State monitor to transportation – over the last 10 years.

School communities need direct investment, guarantees of staffing and program offerings. Every school should have a library and librarian, adequate clinicians and counselors, thriving arts offerings and sports programs and teams. And the mayor of Chicago has an obligation to be actively fighting in partnership for the revenue required to fulfill those basic needs for every school in the city, not just some.

If our city going to compete successfully in the 21st century, we need to ensure that our children, from every community, possess 21st century skills. We need to tie workforce development efforts into our schools, starting in the earliest grades, and help CPS to do its job by providing needed support around school safety, helping students traumatized by violence, expanding school-based health centers and improving access to technology. What we cannot do is cut City aid to schools as the current mayor is doing, and plans to do as we implement an elected school board. Then we need to work together to increase school funding and institute a fairer school funding formula.

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Environmental Justice

For decades, our city's leadership has failed to take into consideration the health of our people and environment. Thousands of pipelines are contaminated with lead making it dangerous to drink our water. Dozens of industrial corridors have been redeveloped to have homes built nearby without consideration of the health impacts of nearby residents. Many of our public schools have fallen under unsafe conditions that are harming the learning experience for many kids. Communities can not access public transportation options to business hubs in the city. The sad reality is that many of these communities are composed of people of color, creating literal sacrifice zones.

We need Chicago to lead the way in protecting the communities most affected by pollution, and take a strong stand to mitigate climate disaster. As mayor, Brandon Johnson will make Chicago a leader in sustainability, and usher in a Chicago Green New Deal that transforms our city and makes a better future possible. On Day One, he will order a comprehensive study of this city’s environmental needs, with a focus on identifying the hazards on the South and West sides. He isconfident that we can finish that study in the first 100 days, with the assistance of community groups and advocates. Then we will develop new environmental regulations to reduce and mitigate the pollutants that are fouling our water and air – and it won’t take centuries for a Johnson administration to put those regulations into action.

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Gender Equity

Anti-LGBTQ legislation and hate crimes are sweeping the nation. Chicago is a regional hub for LGBTQ community and culture, with tens of thousands of LGBTQ residents, and thousands more visiting from across the Midwest and the rest of the country. It is the duty of the mayor to ensure that Chicago keeps the promises its made to LGBTQ people, and commits to further investment.

Too many Chicagoans also continue to face discrimination and pay disparities because of their gender. Brandon Johnson is committed to gender equity and justice, and will make the structural changes necessary for all girls, women and transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) persons in Chicago to thrive.

Brandon will transform Chicago into a national model for gender equity and reproductive rights, champion LGBTQ rights as human rights, and be a visible and vocal ally to creating safety and equal opportunity for the LGBTQ community. He will enact Chicago policies that address all of the issues that impact members of the LGBTQ community regardless of ability, age, ethnicity/race, faith, gender expression, immigrant status, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

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Health & human services

Mental Health Care

Our city, and our nation, are in the midst of a mental health crisis. As we head into a fourth year of COVID-19, people are depressed and anxious. It’s estimated that 10% of American youth are experiencing depression so severe that it affects their ability to function. The vast majority of people with substance use disorders have no access to treatment. It is absolutely vital to get more help to people who are suffering. But the need isn’t simply for more care – we also need better mental health care. Our first step will be to reach out to Cook County, to find ways we can build and expand on Cook County Health’s mental health infrastructure and resources. Working together, we can provide good, accessible care while saving taxpayer money.  

We must also implement the “Treatment Not Trauma” approach across our city, deploying mental health professionals rather than armed police officers to respond to mental health calls. Such an approach has been shown not only to resolve such crises with dramatically lower incidence of violence than the traditional approach, but using non-police in such situations actually saves taxpayer money.

When we discuss the costs of doing something, we also need to consider the costs of not doing anything – or just continuing doing the same old thing. Affordable mental health care is still a cost, but it doesn’t cost as much as not providing affordable mental health care, as the rising rates of crime, homelessness, social anomie and civic distress have shown in recent years.  A strong public system of care keeps us all safer, keeps our city more livable, and reduces the costs of other services.  In short, investing in averting problems costs less than paying to remediate them afterwards; smarter policies turn out to be the cheaper policies in the long-run.

Lead Pipes

Lead pipes connect more Chicago homes to water mains than in any other U.S. city – nearly 80% of Chicago residents are potentially exposed to brain-damaging metal in their water. President Biden’s infrastructure program has made billions of dollars available for cities like Chicago to begin lead-pipe replacement. This isn’t a matter of “competing interests for government dollars” – these are funds available specifically for this purpose.

What we need to do is to look for how we can get the job done more efficiently and effectively, to stretch the dollars we do access as far as possible. Chicago is projecting costs five times the national average for replacing its lead pipes. Why aren’t we instead looking to what other cities, such as Denver and Detroit, have done to lower the per-unit costs of replacement? This includes such common-sense steps as replacing lead lines at the same time that we’re digging up and replacing the connected water mains.

Food Apartheid, Medical Care & Disparities

Much like citywide lead line replacement, the issue of food apartheid provides a good example of both the kinds of steps we can take to tackle inequality that leads to disparate health outcomes for working families AND and the fact that taking intelligent action to improve equity and invest in all people’s health costs less and increases productivity in the long run. That’s why Brandon will expand frontline workers in the Chicago Department of Public Health and create a public fund to make home care a more accessible public service. He also will expand mental health services, as discussed in the answer to the first question.

In addition, his fiscal plan for the city includes working with labor unions on comprehensive reform of the city employees’ health care plan to lower cost and improve quality. These reforms can be marketed to neighboring municipalities, which can be expanded to employers and other plans, injecting more price competition into the market and making more widely available options like tele-medicine, and neighborhood and on-site work clinics.

Brandon also intends to expand guaranteed income programs to reach more Chicago families, which will help more families afford the care they need. Finally, one of the biggest impediments to families getting ahead is the burden of medical debt; at the county level, where he serves as a commissioner, Cook County has become one of the leading jurisdictions in the country paying off residents’ medical debt. Brandon will bring this effort to city government, as well.

Health care relates to all the other challenges we face. This is something Brandon Johnson understands from his own life experience. As a classroom teacher, he worked closely with children who were experiencing hunger, chronic illness and health crises. Growing up, he often waited in long lines at Cook County Hospital for treatment for asthma. As mayor, he will work to ensure we have accessible and affordable health care available to all, throughout our city.


Chicago must lead with and live by the promise to be a sanctuary city and welcome immigrants and refugees, and treat them with dignity and respect. This sanctuary promise must extend to everyone who needs it in our city, and residents both old and new. Our public schools must be sanctuaries for all children by investing in dual language programs, ethnic studies and English as a Second Language (ESL). We must coordinate efforts with local communities with the infrastructure to support displaced immigrants and refugees, and coordinate efforts at all levels of government to provide humane conditions for everyone.

We must also work to protect the social fabric of immigrant communities like Chinatown, Pilsen, Little Village, West Ridge, much of Albany Park and others to continue to be ports of entry by protecting commercials corridors such as 18th Street, and Wentworth and Devon avenues, by investing in them and providing assistance to our small businesses and hard-working people.

We must reduce inefficiencies in the Chicago Police Department to free up staffing to protect street vendors in Little Village from violence, and work with vendors throughout the city on streamlining the process to obtain Business Affairs and Consumer Protection licenses. Engage commercial kitchens and violence prevention programs, and expand spaces like the Discount Mall on 26th Street, so more street vendors can have safe and warm spaces to work.

Building on his track record of multi-racial solidarity on the Country Board — including collaborating with Latinx colleagues to eliminate the gang database and secure legal representation for immigrants facing deportation — Brandon will work to strengthen Chicago’s CityKey program and fully resource services that support displaced immigrants arriving in our city.

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LGBTQ Rights

Anti-LGBTQ legislation and hate crimes are sweeping the nation. Chicago is a regional hub for LGBTQ community and culture, with tens of thousands of LGBTQ residents, and thousands more visiting from across the Midwest and the rest of the country. It is the duty of the mayor to ensure that Chicago keeps the promises its made to LGBTQ people, and commits to further investment.

Too many Chicagoans also continue to face discrimination and pay disparities because of their gender. Brandon Johnson is committed to gender equity and justice, and will make the structural changes necessary for all girls, women and transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) persons in Chicago to thrive.

Brandon will transform Chicago into a national model for gender equity and reproductive rights, champion LGBTQ rights as human rights, and be a visible and vocal ally to creating safety and equal opportunity for the LGBTQ community. He will enact Chicago policies that address all of the issues that impact members of the LGBTQ community regardless of ability, age, ethnicity/race, faith, gender expression, immigrant status, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

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Public Safety & police reform

As mayor, I will chart a new strategy for public safety, rather than relying on the same failed approaches that have brought trauma to communities across the city. I will work with police and first responders to invest in community-based interventions that de-escalate conflict, reduce violence and make our neighborhoods safer. I will create an Office of Community Safety, reopen the city’s mental health clinics, fully fund year-round youth employment, and foster partnerships between communities and law enforcement to make critical investments preventing crime before it happens.

The Chicago Police Department must comply with the federal consent decree and increase its homicide clearance rate. I will work closely with the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability to hold police accountable and evaluate the goals and performance of the CPD, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Police Board. I will remove the flawed gang database and support Treatment Not Trauma, reduce inefficiencies in public safety spending, and direct more funds to violence prevention and community safety programming that address the root causes of community violence.

And my administration will attack these root causes of crime and poverty by investing in the basics: good schools, good jobs, housing and mental health.

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Reproductive Rights

There are three things I would like to make absolutely clear. One: abortion is health care. Two: abortion should be a constitutional right. Three: We will not accept an America – or a Chicago – that goes back in time.

There is no middle ground on abortion. There is no middle ground on reproductive health care. Individuals should always have the right to control what happens to their own bodies – not the government.

As a teacher, community organizer and candidate for the next mayor of Chicago, I will not stop fighting until abortion access is completely secure for people all over this country. ​​​Reproductive health must be an integral part of any health program or plan. Without access to a full range of reproductive services, women and others who can become pregnant simply cannot be said to have adequate health care.

The consequences of the Supreme Court overturning Roe are dire. It is not an exaggeration to say that banning safe, legal and medically assisted abortion will cause great harm. So we must fight even harder for women of color, young women and women living below the poverty line. We must fight harder for cisgender women, and transgender and non-binary individuals. We must fight for women who will risk their lives and their livelihoods to end an unwanted pregnancy. We must fight for people who no longer have access to basic reproductive health care.

Black women in Chicago experience the highest rates of maternal mortality and morbidity rates. That’s largely due to structural inequality that leaves them underinsured or with limited access to quality health care. That’s why I am fundamentally committed to investing in and expanding our public health clinics – and making sure that abortion, contraception and reproductive care are safe, free and accessible. As mayor, I would ensure that additional public health clinics were opened, especially in schools and in neighborhoods where current services are woefully inadequate. Free or low-cost contraceptive services should be available to all, regardless of their insurance status. I also strongly support full access to abortion services, fertility treatments and other reproductive health care. and I would make sure that these are included in the health insurance plans offered to all city workers (including those workers in Chicago Public Schools).  

And if I have the honor of being elected the next mayor of Chicago, I can guarantee that on this issue, the women and non-binary individuals of this city will always have me in their corner.


A safe, reliable transit system is fundamentally important if Chicago is to grow jobs and employment. Chicago’s transit infrastructure is a tremendous asset, but we need to do better at connecting residents with jobs and educational opportunities. We will need to address funding shortfalls for transit, but at the same time, we can be doing a lot better with the resources we already have. I want to see the CTA as a customer-focused agency with service frequency and reliability as the highest priorities. As just one example, we need to create a citywide bus lane network and bus rapid transit system that gives buses priority over other traffic.

Every stakeholder in the use of Chicago’s sidewalks, railways and roadways must work collaboratively toward safety. The CTA needs a vast overhaul in terms of reliability and increased access, as well as safety for workers and riders. Reducing or eliminating fares for some, and increasing access to transit will increase ridership and mass transit solvency, and increase employment in communities where unemployment rates are high. We must be responsive to trends and feedback from CTA riders, and make changes such as increased late evening hours, trains and trips. We also need mental health professionals and housing advocates with resources to house the homeless and treat those with mental illness by addressing root causes, instead of criminalizing poverty and creating tension between commuters and those harmed by systemic inequity.

As mayor, I will also prioritize walking and biking as a public accommodation, ensuring that it is 1) integrated into the architecture of people-traffic with reimagined streetscapes that protect pedestrians and cyclists, and 2) a component of good health, neighborhoods with affordable housing, and access to jobs and schools. This includes reduced speed limits and automobile access in select areas of the city. I will also support a rapid-response CDOT team and municipal sidewalk snow and ice removal program, and create car-free zones in communities to promote safe walkability and recreation for children.

We also need to install well-designed, dedicated bike lanes, so that cyclists feel safe on our streets. By investing in viable alternatives to automobiles, we can reduce congestion and make getting around Chicago faster and more pleasant for everyone.

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