Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Suburbanites, you’re next

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By Ray Hanania

Brandon Johnson, the Cook County Commissioner very few people heard of, defeated Paul Vallas in the runoff for Chicago mayor.

Don’t believe that the major issues between them determined the election results.

Vallas criticized Johnson for his numerous statements calling to defund the police, his support of looters who destroyed businesses in the summer riots of 2020, and avoiding the need to toughen responses to criminals.

Johnson criticized Vallas for his actions as a former school CEO, claiming his policies forced an increase in property taxes, accused him of being a Trump Republican and called him homophobic.

But it seemed that crime was most important on the minds of the voters in Chicago, who, so far, have managed to avoid being killed or injured by the rampaging criminals, carjackers and violent thugs.

Cook County Commissioner Johnson authored a resolution after the looting to “redirect funds from policing and incarceration to public services not administered by law enforcement that promote community health and safety equitably.”


Ray Hanania

Johnson’s activism to defend criminals and undermine police got little play mainly because there were so many other more outspoken anti-police politicians doing worse, like Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The analysts, all predicting Vallas would win, are not spinning this explanation as to why he lost. Chicago voters are concerned about crime but not enough to make defunding the police and support of looters less important than claims that Vallas was somehow tied to Trump, which is an outright lie.

So, what is the real reason why Johnson won and Vallas lost?

The significance of crime is one of the most important issues facing the City of Chicago. The gun violence — in a city that bans guns, mind you — remains a serious threat. Foxx and politicians like her are easing the punishments on criminals, who are not stupid and understand they face lesser punishment in Cook County than they do in other counties like Will and DuPage.

While everyone wants to make it about race, it really wasn’t race driving how people voted. Vallas, who is white, had many African American and Hispanic supporters and Johnson, who is black, had many white and Hispanic supporters.

The pundits want to blur Johnson’s anti-police sentiments and try to tell you that the results show that voters were more concerned about property tax hikes, poverty, and improving education, all very important issues. But, more important than crime?

If a criminal kills you, it doesn’t matter how much education you get, what your property taxes were, or whether or not you have a good job or on welfare.

Being soft on crime was marginalized by an even greater force.

Johnson had a political machine that was pushing his candidacy. Vallas had the issues.

As it was true before it is true today, the machine determines election results.

Election board data is still being tabulated, but the latest numbers this week show Johnson has 51.44% of the vote or 287,557 votes, and Vallas has 48.56%, or 271,443 ballots.

The difference between the two, as I write this column, is only 16,114. That’s out of 560,123 total votes cast.

Johnson has a machine. Not a new one that he organized, but one that has controlled the City of Chicago now for more than two decades. This machine is the Chicago Teachers Union, which spends mightily to get salaries for their organizers and twists and distorts issues to justify more pay hikes for teachers. And what teacher in crime-ridden Chicago wants to complain about getting more money?

Johnson also has AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is a part of the AFL-CIO union.

Those two organizations have an army of “precinct captains” who are led by far left activist leaders determined to gut the police, protect criminals from prosecution and secure as much money for their members as possible.

I’m not against teachers making more money, although government pensions are outrageous and AFSCME is preventing reform.

I am against the ideology of hate against police. Criminals should be prosecuted and punished, thinking that the activists have redefined as a new form of racism from white people.

I am not against teachers. They should be safe and earn wages that can address today’s economic turmoil. But that’s something everyone needs, not just teachers.

We are in a new era where machine politics now decides Chicago’s future. The only thing left is for those who fled the violence in Chicago to the suburbs to prevent that Chicago criminal bent to grow in their own communities.

Suburbanites: You’re next.

(Ray Hanania is a former Chicago City Hall reporter and award-winning columnist. Visit hanania.com for more commentary.)


  1. John Scudder on April 7, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    Bravo!!!! Right on target. Thank you. I appreciate every column you write.

    • Larry Rivkin on April 7, 2023 at 5:19 pm

      A once great city continues to decline.
      I weep for the future

      • Richard Kelly on April 7, 2023 at 7:21 pm


        • Antrionetta on April 8, 2023 at 8:54 am

          Lol Police behavior, misconduct, actions, murders, harassment and brutality has plaqued the justice system long enough. Planting drugs, forcing murder conviction, lying and tampering with evidence and cover ups has contributed to their demise from 49 States. All our branches are corrupt, greedy and destructive and are guilty of Genocide threw law enforcement & Government officials but All Lives Matter

        • Chris Dever on April 8, 2023 at 8:33 pm

          Great piece, Ray

      • Thaddeus F O’Malley on April 8, 2023 at 6:40 am

        I grew up in Chicago. My roots are Logan Square. It has been a very, very sad past 20-years for such a Great City – CHICAGO. I pray, but sorrowfully, that Chicago WAKES UP. What B. Johnson initiates in his first 24-hours as Mayor will be telling. Preckwingle and Foxx running Chicago, or Johnson. God bless.

    • Joe Mitchell on April 9, 2023 at 12:45 pm

      This article is part of the fear tactic straight out of the GOP hand book. If you want to eliminate crime, let’s start by getting these illegal guns and drugs off the street. No one wants to address this. Let us begin there

    • Radar voyage on April 10, 2023 at 9:45 pm

      Well said, though so unfortunately, Chicago is Chicago, in only a short time, Chicago will wish they would have made a different choice, it going to go from worse to worse as it get. Everone knows the School Teachers own this Mayor and he is indebted to them until eternal.

  2. John Hajduch on April 7, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    I agree!
    I live in Burnham….a south suburb of Chicago. I call Burnham “little Chicago “.

    • Kevin Brown on April 7, 2023 at 10:46 pm

      I will never understand why some believe that society can punish its way to public safety. Having more police and creating more ways to permanently punish people has never created safer communities. Even in countries with authoritarian governments where people are beheaded or where limbs are cut off as punishment violent crime persists. Communities with good schools, healthy employment levels, and resources that include housing, healthy food choices, and adequate health-care have lower incidents of violent crime. It’s not rocket science. It’s the people most impacted by the violence who constantly plead for the equity and infrastructure that is the foundation for healthy communities. Ultimately it’s healthy people that make healthy communities and until you and others understand that we will continue to argue over the failed lock them up strategies. It’s just stupid.

      • James on April 8, 2023 at 7:28 am

        To Mr. Brown I must admit that you have a firm grasp on this issue of crime, it’s obvious that you have come to a logical and rational conclusion and might I add the right conclusion. I also must admit that although you are correct in your analysis most people have been so brainwashed about crime that they have no clue about how and why crime is high in one neighborhood but low in another. Hopefully

      • Bella on April 8, 2023 at 8:05 am

        Thank you Mr Brown! I agree 100%.

      • Wally O. on April 8, 2023 at 8:07 am

        I bet you wouldn’t walk down
        95th & Cottage Grove after Dark ?
        The Death Penalty should be automatic for those that kill a policeman ! Old Sparky is too good for those who kill others. I and many others feel that the National Guard should be patrolling the x-ways and high crime areas RIGHT NOW ! This no bail law is a big joke ! I can hear all the gang bangers laughing !

    • Wally O. on April 8, 2023 at 7:54 am

      All who work in Chicago but live in the suburbs , I bet you can’t wait for Johnson’s soon to be be enacted CITY INCOME TAX!! No he won’t raise your property tax Crook County already did that when they raised your taxable property market value ! And those who found that out 2 WEEKS AFTER THE ELECTION last fall. found their taxes were raised significantly higher ! Maybe we should all stop paying our water bills !

      • FJHSR1960 on April 8, 2023 at 11:15 am

        He campaigned on putting a head tax on Suburbanites who work in the city. Companies will leave the city before they’ll pay a head tax. Hence, they will take the jobs with them.

  3. Jean Ratchford on April 7, 2023 at 5:23 pm

    Kudo’s for speaking the truth !! Now, I worry about where I live, in the suburbs. I moved here from the Burbs of Detroit. What was I thinking ??!! In 2016, it was a novel idea, following my son, after his Dad’s death. Now…wow what a change a few years can make !!

  4. John M on April 7, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    It’s true. The unions were out in force, harvesting ballots and dragging young, infrequent voters to the polls (or taking their ballot to a drop box). Vallas had no ground game. None. That’s gotta change

  5. Franklin Marshall on April 7, 2023 at 7:43 pm

    You are mistaken. The machine was behind Vallas completely. Campaign ads from Jesse White, Dick Durbin, and several other ‘insider’ democratic machine members. While Johnson was supported by Davis, Periwinkle, and a number of other progressives. This is a start of a new serge in progressive leadership. I am looking forward to seeing great leadership and positive restructuring for Chicago. You continue to mention ‘defunding the police’ rethtoric. THAT was the worst bumper-sticker ever. What is happening is to shift burdens off of the policeman that never should have been given to them, and bring in mental health professionals to do their best. Allowing the brave policemen and women to serve and protect. What we don’t need is these type of toxic opinions before the beginning. Be supportive, not judgmental.

    • REML on April 8, 2023 at 5:55 am

      Totally agree with Franklin! Couldn’t have said it better.

    • Jay Pea on April 8, 2023 at 8:20 am

      Let’s wait and see what happens when these mental health professionals and social workers respond to domestic calls. Domestic calls are the most dangerous calls for police officers. Maybe Johnson will change his mind about the police when these people end up shot or dead.
      The police know that they are not supported in Chicago. Johnson’s win will only make their situation worse.

    • K Elander on April 9, 2023 at 12:59 am

      I agree with you, Franklin! THANK YOU!
      Big money was behind Vallas and he outspent Johnson 2 to 1. The teacher’s union endorsed Johnson over Vallas as they knew what Vallas did to the schools and didn’t want him in charge. Having met Vallas, I am not impressed and hate that he doesn’t really live in Chicago. Johnson doesn’t want to get rid of police officers, he wants to bring in more professionals who can deal with the mentally ill so the police have more availability to deal with other issues. Our daughter’s family is in Albany Park and we are there weekly to see them or a show, etc. I feel ill when neighbors say we’re brave to go into town. We love Chicago just as we loved Detroit and the surroundings for our first 50+ years. So much negativity and it helps no one!

  6. Ellan on April 8, 2023 at 7:37 am

    I live in the suburbs and crime , gun violence in school was never a big issue. NOW ITS A BIG ISSUE! Defund police is stupid. Who you gonna call when someone is reading into your house, etc. Makes no sense.

  7. Jimmy Z on April 8, 2023 at 7:38 am

    Nothing will change! Everything in this city, county and state will continue to decline! Oh, except taxes, which will soon be skyrocketing!

  8. Mike Kelly on April 8, 2023 at 7:47 am

    Less than 1/3 of registered voters cast a vote- machine? You are only next when you don’t vote.

  9. Greg on April 8, 2023 at 7:57 am

    New era of a political machine? That machine has been running Chicago corruptly for decades. It’s nothing new.

  10. John Doe on April 8, 2023 at 9:09 am

    Oh please stop it with your excuse making for the reason vallas lost. The machine was behind vallas, but Johnson got the youth excited and they came out to vote since they are the ones who will inherit this city. It’s amazing how the people who are the least likely to be affected by crime are the ones yelling from the rooftops about it. Sorry that the old Republican trope “soft on crime” didn’t work this time. Just face it progressive messages win elections when the election is not rigged by voter suppression.

    • K Elander on April 9, 2023 at 1:02 am

      EXACTLY! Vallas spent more than twice the money of the Johnson campaign. Besides, Vallas not a Chicagoan.

    • Sandor on April 9, 2023 at 4:54 pm

      Exactly. The days of the machine are coming to an end. FWIW people live in Chicago because they want to. Billionaires run to Florida because there is no state income tax. But it is hot as hell there and getting hotter. Chicago has nice clean water from the lake. Everyone wants it but it’s ours.

  11. Jahlove Williams on April 8, 2023 at 10:21 am

    What needs to be done is that we all need to love one another to stop this hate that is going around

  12. GG on April 8, 2023 at 11:51 am

    Career criminals (recidavists) who are convicted, jailed, taken off the street & given mental help, drug/alcohol rehabilitation & an opportunity for education and vocational training are proven not to continue causing crime while incarcerated – duh. (A dose of religion would help too) The question is for how long shall they be incarcerated, not whether their bail is reasonable. Like any other advancement opportunity in life. . . Do the work while in jail, prove your worth through effort, win your release back into society.

  13. Marcos on April 8, 2023 at 10:46 pm

    B Johnson isn’t going to do nothing about crime when Kids 13 and up are car jacking for a free ride. They are Juveniles and will be tried as such. You think Johnson is going to be able to get the guns out of their hands?
    There is no way that’s going to happen. So now everyone in Chicago will have to protect themselves with a concealed carry permit. Then all heck will break loose. I’m not against people that want to go hunting for sport, but now we’re doing it just to protect ourselves because Lightfoot has took the police department out of the equation and Kim Fox let’s them out Or doesn’t put them in jail!!! Yes I firmly believe that the National Guard needs to take this city under control and get rid of the thugs and drugs. To be honest it all starts with the parents but yet the gangs kill the parents and the juvenile have no upbringing. Nobody wants to go into the city because fear of not coming out alive!!! Simple as that!!!
    Good luck Chicago your going to need it!!!

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