CHICAGO — A former school teacher faced off against the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools on Thursday night.

Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson met for their second televised debate before the runoff election. The event was hosted by ABC 7 in partnership with the League of Women Voters and Univision.

On stage, the candidates drew distinctions in their approaches to reducing crime.

Johnson stressed youth employment and treatment, not trauma.

CHICAGO MAYORAL RACE: Johnson endorsed by Bernie Sanders while Vallas garners support from aldermen

“Economic stability is safety,” Johnson said.

Vallas brought up how Johnson seeks to defund the police. Johnson denied Vallas’ claims.

“He doesn’t want to fulfill the 1,100 vacancies,” Vallas said. “He doesn’t want to bring back retired officers or invite other officers who have left to return.”

Both mayoral candidates outlined their plans for policing, starting with what they’re looking for in the superintendent who will replace David Brown.

“I will promote from within and I will advocate for a candidate from within,” Vallas said.


“This is what I’m looking for in a police superintendent: someone who is compassionate, someone who is collaborative and someone who is competent,” Johnson said.

Both candidates say that educational opportunities and schools are closely tied to public safety. Vallas said the closure of schools during the pandemic fueled youth crime. But Johnson countered, attacking Vallas’ record leading school districts in Philadelphia and New Orleans after he left CPS.

Vallas also noted that Johnson would raise taxes, which Johnson denied, reiterating his promise not to raise property taxes. However, Johnson said he couldn’t run a city off bake sales.

WGN-TV will host a debate with Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas next Tuesday, March 21, beginning at 7 p.m.