The Chicago Black establishment leader who backed Paul Vallas against Brandon Johnson was the big loser in the mayoral election

Mayor Brandon Johnson.

For many Chicagoans, it will take some getting used to.

After all, Johnson didn't win by a landslide or by a wide margin. Even with an army of infantrymen provided by a powerful guild, Johnson only got past Paul Vallas, his experienced opponent.

Johnson's narrow victory means he must win the hearts of many people. Many of us didn't know who we would vote for until the poll workers handed us our ballots and directed us to the voting booth.

Then, we stood there thinking — not about the campaign rhetoric and promises made by candidates over a seemingly endless election cycle, but about which candidate would do the least harm in a city struggling to bounce back.

Because Johnson is positioned as a progressive candidate, he is an easy choice for young voters who have yet to taste the bitterness of a candidate failing to deliver on campaign promises.

However, as my colleague Lynn Sweet points out in a column, preliminary figures from the Chicago Board of Elections show that, of those who did vote, “only 3.30% were between 18 and 24 years old.”

Young people who choose to do their part. But their colleagues weren't excited about any of the candidates.

So what does that mean?

I think the Next Generation — the Chicagoans who kept it in their neighborhood — are sick and tired of seeing old school activists pushing old school candidates. They want fresh ideas and don't want to wait decades for change.

In short, many young people don't trust the system or those who run it.

This election is a showdown between old school politicians and new thought leaders.

That so many prominent black establishment leaders marched behind Vallas, the political insider who was the chief executive of Chicago Public Schools under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, may be Vallas' undoing.

Yes, we have come a long way from the 1983 Chicago mayoral election, when Harold Washington's victory made history, and every black person you met wore the “Harold” button.

In this case, the old guard of Chicago's Black political leadership proudly marched behind Vallas.

Those leaders included former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, former Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones, former Rep. Bobby Rush, former Ald. Roderick Sawyer, Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), businessman and former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson.

When it comes to leadership, Black people have come to rely on black men and women in power to use their platforms to uplift and support other Black people.

Because if black people in power don't give the next generation a chance, then who will?

In this election, black leaders had the opportunity to pass the mantle of leadership to Johnson, who had the backing of several powerful political allies and the public — and they chose not to.

That's embarrassing.

As mayor, Johnson has promised to bring the city together.

This is a significant promise.

But, having emerged victorious in this mayoral election with a supposedly freely given mandate, I have not forgotten it.