The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is taking on the powerful state teachers’ union by endorsing of Paul Vallas, a Democrat fighting a tight run-off for the party’s nomination for the mayor of Chicago against the union-backed candidate.
The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful organization of Latino business leaders in the state, endorsed Vallas.
Vallas, a former director of Chicago Public Schools, is facing Cook County Commissioner and teacher, Brandon Johnson, in a runoff election on April 4. Vallas has made combating crime and fixing Chicago’s ailing public schools the central messages of his campaign.
“After meeting with both candidates and learning about their platforms, we believe that Paul Vallas is the best option for Chicago,” said President and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Jaime di Paulo.
“In these times it is important to talk about the issues that affect our community and economy. Latinos are a major economic force: they represent 30% of the population of Chicago, and 17% in Illinois. Each year they contribute more than 100 billion dollars to the State’s economy’, he said.
“Supporting Latino businesses is not only a moral obligation, but also an economic necessity that benefits everyone. As the vote approaches, it is crucial that the Latino community come out to vote for the leaders who will continue to support Hispanic businesses”, said di Paulo in a statement.
“We need officials who look out for minorities as they also contribute to the local economy, generate revenue and encourage investment in the city. That’s why the [Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce] Board of Directors is proud to support Paul Vallas as a candidate for mayor of Chicago”, he said.
“Vallas understands the challenges facing the Latino community and is committed to addressing them. His economic development plan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to include businesses in City bids.
According to a recent poll Vallas has a slight lead, of 46.3 percent over Johnson’s 44.2 percent given recent polls.
Recently Johnson received an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Jesús ‘Chuy’ Garcia, who said he did not make the decision lightly. “I make it standing for the best interests of the progressive movement and without any other hesitation or reservation,” Garcia said. “The choice is clear. Chicago is a city of strong public schools, thriving neighborhoods and progressive values. It is through this lens that I see Brandon Johnson as the right choice and why I’m endorsing him for Mayor”, said Garcia who last February failed in his dreams of being the mayor of the city.
The chamber’s decision comes after Vallas and Johnson laid out their platform before the board and members of the business organization.
“With a collective budget of $28 billion, it is vital to economic growth and democracy that city agencies prioritize the growth of local businesses in bidding decisions. We are confident that Vallas will prioritize the needs of Latino businesses and will work to ensure that 30% of leadership positions are filled by people who prioritize the needs of the Latino community”, said Di Paulo.
“The Democratic candidate is committed to building a fair system that includes all communities, especially Latinos. At the [Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce] we are committed to advocating for the voices of Latino small businesses and entrepreneurs to be heard. Next April 4th, go vote for the candidate who best represents our interests and promotes our economic growth. Together, we can build a stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive Chicago for all.
Vallas received an endorsement from the Latino Leadership Council, an organization made up of civic, business and elected leaders.
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D) and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas (D) advanced to the April 4 runoff as the top two vote-getters in the Feb. 28 general election.
Johnson and Vallas received the most votes out of the nine-candidate field, with 21.6% and 32.9%, respectively.
Incumbent Lori Lightfoot (D) placed third, becoming the first incumbent mayor to lose re-election in Chicago in 34 years.
This means, on Feb. 28, 45.5% of voters cast their ballots for a candidate no longer on the ballot.
Since then, five of those seven candidates have endorsed either Johnson or Vallas.
- U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D) and state Rep. Kambium Buckner (D) endorsed Johnson.
- Willie Wilson (I), Ja’Mal Green (D), and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (D) endorsed Vallas.
- Collectively, Johnson’s endorsers got 15.7% of the vote on Feb. 28, and Vallas’ endorsers received 11.7%.
- Two candidates—Lightfoot, who had 16.8% of the vote, and Ald. Sophia King, who received 1.3%—have not yet made an endorsement.
Latino voters in Chicago have indicated they were more likely to vote for Vallas among by +11, according to the Center for the Study of Diversity & Democracy at Northwestern University.
Voters who were unsure if they’ll vote favored Johnson by 10 points.
Produced in association with Negocios Now and Ballotpedia