CHICAGO (WLS) — Brandon Johnson will be the next mayor of Chicago. Paul Vallas told supporters late Tuesday he had called on Johnson to give up.
While Vallas started the night with an early lead, the race quickly tightened to 50-50. At 9:30 pm Johnson led Paul by more than 16,000 votes, a gap that continues to widen and is expected to grow as ballots continue to be counted.
The Associated Press called the race for Johnson around 9:35 p.m. Addressing his supporters moments later, Vallas said the results showed the city was “divided”, but pushed for support for Johnson, whom he said he had called to congratulate.
The Chicago Electoral Board said when voting closed, a total of 503,382 ballots were cast, putting the turnout at 33.2% of a total of 1,592,894 registered voters.
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The atmosphere inside Johnson's election night party was electrifying, brimming with energy as supporters waited for him to step down and deliver his victory speech. And while funding from the Chicago Teachers' Union, where Johnson was previously an organizer, and the SEIU helped his campaign, he has long credited the “multicultural, multi-generational movement” for bringing him from relative obscurity to the fifth floor of City Hall. .
WATCH: Brandon Johnson's victory speech
In particular, he praised the base game of his campaign, mobilizing people in the last five weeks to knock on doors, host events, and send text messages. He believes that despite his message, it was his hard work that brought him to this point.
In his victory speech, Johnson made a winning note and was very optimistic. He spoke about how tonight meant the civil rights movement and the labor rights movement finally won, and said his administration would be one that truly belonged to the people of Chicago.
He also ended his speech by saying it was a time to “celebrate the rise and rise of the City of Chicago.”
In contrast, Vallas supporters were stunned and even jeered when he told them he had surrendered to Johnson, but the former CPS CEO and city budget director clearly saw the math and saw no way for him to close the gap with outstanding ballots.
WATCH: Paul Vallas addresses supporters
“It is very, very important that the campaign I am running to unite this city does not become the campaign that fulfills my ambitions if this election is to further divide us,” Vallas told his supporters. “So it's very important that we take this moment to come together, and have offered my full support in his transition.”
Chicagoans began lining up at the polls Tuesday morning to make their choice.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to vote,” said voter Rob Shapiro. “I teach all over the world and many places where people can't choose and I know how important this is.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement saying in part, “I congratulate Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson on his hard-fought runoff victory tonight. It's time for all of us as Chicagoans, regardless of our ZIP code or neighborhood, our race or ethnicity, the creators we worship, or whom we love, to come together and recommit ourselves to unite around our common present and future.”
Governor JB Pritzker also released a congratulatory statement, partly saying, “I would like to congratulate Mayor-elect Johnson. I am committed to a productive partnership that advances our shared priority of making Chicago a better place to live, work, do business, and have a family.”
The super voting site in the Loop on Clark and Lake experienced a spike during the morning rush.
Bill Rue admitted that he had difficulty choosing between the two mayoral candidates, Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas.
“I don't necessarily like either, because they both have downsides and positives, but it's so important to get out there and choose,” says Rue.
One of the biggest problems driving people to the polls is public safety and crime. Some say if there is no improvement, it could force them to leave the city.
“If it doesn't improve, I am very concerned about the safety of my family and friends,” said voter Jonathan Soco.
“One of the issues that's important to me is the gun violence that's happening here, and also gang violence,” said voter Elvira Garcia.
Craig Sims said the crime problem had not affected his voice.
“My concern is the economic development on the South and West sides of the city,” said Sims. “Not paying much attention to the downtown area and what's going on up north but moving into the neighborhood and taking care of problems and fixing them.”
Many voters said they did their homework, studying the candidates in the weeks leading up to Election Day.
“I watch a lot of debates and a lot of me is immigration, obviously, the parents are immigrants, so that's a big one and then the police too,” said Nubia voter Benitez.
“It wasn't my first choice, but I felt even if there wasn't one, it was still important for me to choose,” said Kristen Davis.
William Lowry said the decision was easy.
“Black Voices are very important,” he said. “A lot of the time, where the Black vote is happening a lot is where you see a lot of progress and a lot of change.”
And some voters just expect change, period.
“I hope there is fresh air,” said voter Asomah Akainyah. “I was hoping for someone who would really make their voice heard and advocate for people, and mothers, family people, and really just new horizons for Chicago.”
It's unclear whether we'll ever know who won the mayoral election at the end of the night. According to Chicago election officials, more people are voting early and by mail.
It's unclear whether we will know a winner on Tuesday night. Chicago took the ballots that came in postmarked on Election Day and the remaining number of ballots had to be tallied, and there were still 91,000 ballots that came in.
Vallas' campaign strategist and other political observers believe it will take time to declare a winner.
“The only question is you know if that lead is three or four points, that's going to be hard to change. If that lead is less than one point, then we have to wait until every vote is counted,” said Democratic strategist Tom Bowen. .
To find your polling location, visit Chicago Electoral Council website.