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Democracy Forum 2023

A photographic portrait of a Black man with short, cropped hair and salt and pepper beard smiling for the camera. He wears glasses and a suit and tie. Behind him is part of the Chicago city flag, with 6-pointed red stars and blue stripes.

Mayor Brandon Johnson


Mayor of Chicago


Brandon Johnson was sworn in as the 57th Mayor of the City of Chicago on May 15, 2023. Mayor Johnson began his career as a public school teacher, first at Jenner Academy in Cabrini-Green and then at Westinghouse College Prep on the West Side, where he experienced firsthand how school closures, unemployment and gun violence impacted his students and their communities. He then went on to become an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union, where he led multi-racial coalitions to defend neighborhood schools from privatization, reduce high-stakes standardized testing and expand access to state funding. Mayor Johnson was elected Cook County Commissioner of the 1st District in 2018. During his five years on the Cook County Board, he led efforts to pass the Just Housing Ordinance which prohibited housing discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, legislation to secure legal representation for immigrants facing deportation, and coordinated COVID-19 resources for low-income seniors in nursing homes. In 2018, Mayor Johnson was elected Commissioner of the 1st District of Cook County. Here he led the effort to pass the Just Housing Ordinance, which prohibited housing discrimination against formerly incarcerated people. As commissioner, he also collaborated with colleagues to eliminate the gang database, secure legal representation for immigrants facing deportation and advance recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In the wake of civil uprisings in the summer of 2020, he organized the Cook County Board to commit to the “Budget for Black Lives,” bringing new investments in health care, public transportation, internet access, and affordable housing. Mayor Johnson and his wife Stacie live in the Austin community, where they are raising their children Owen, Ethan and Braedyn.

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