Chicago Mayoral Election 2023

Who Is Paul Vallas? What to Know About the 1st Candidate Projected to Reach Chicago Mayoral Runoff Election

Vallas, who finished ninth in the 2019 mayoral race with just 30,236 votes, found himself thrust into the frontrunner spot in this election

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The name Paul Vallas shot to the top of headlines during Chicago's tight race for mayor Tuesday, becoming the first name projected to make it to a runoff election in April, but who is he and where does he stand on some of the biggest issues facing the city?

Vallas is the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

With 91% of precincts reporting, Vallas is leading with 35% of the vote, holding a comfortable lead over his closest challengers.

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who had the support of the Chicago Teachers Union and other key labor groups, is currently running in second with 20% of the vote, and has triumphed over incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who will become the first elected mayor to lose a reelection bid since Jane Byrne in 1983.

The runoff between Vallas and Johnson will take place on April 4.

NOTE: You can see the latest election returns HERE.

Vallas, who finished ninth in the 2019 mayoral race with just 30,236 votes, found himself thrust into the frontrunner spot in this election with his focus on issues of public safety, with sharply-critical attacks of Lightfoot's performance as mayor.

Vallas served as CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001, later taking on a similar role in Philadelphia.

In recent years he has run for several offices, losing a bid to become Illinois' lieutenant governor when Pat Quinn was defeated by Bruce Rauner in 2014. He also finished a distant ninth in the 2019 Chicago mayoral race when Lightfoot defeated Toni Preckwinkle in a runoff.

This time around, Vallas received a number of high-profile endorsements, including from the Chicago Tribune and Ald. Tom Tunney, but he also faced a huge amount of criticism, including for his acceptance of the endorsement of the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, led by the controversial John Catanzara, a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump and a long-time nemesis of Lightfoot.

Vallas served as an adviser to the Fraternal Order of Police during its negotiations with Lightfoot’s administration. He has called for adding hundreds of police officers to patrol the city, saying crime is out of control and morale among officers has sunk to a new low during Lightfoot’s tenure.

At a weekend campaign stop, Vallas said he is focused on things like public safety, Chicago's “demoralized” police department and the number of residents “fleeing” the city's school district.

“It’s all a product of bad leadership," Vallas said.

But his campaign wasn't without controversy.

Vallas dealt with accusations that his permanent address was in Palos Heights, but was eventually cleared by an Inspector General investigation.

In more recent days,

Vallas was also criticized after it was found that his Twitter account had liked tweets that “used racist language, supported controversial police tactics like ‘stop and frisk,’ or insulted the mayor in personal terms,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Vallas denied liking those tweets, and argued that his account had been hacked.

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