Brandon Johnson strode onto the 5th floor of City Hall Thursday for the first time since being elected Chicago’s 57th mayor, getting his first up-close view of the office he’ll assume next month.
During a 90-minute huddle with outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Johnson said he and the woman he’s about to replace discussed their shared commitment “to making sure the city is united” — and passed on rehashing any of the harsh words they shared on the campaign trail
But before diving into the details of the mayoral transition, the mayor-elect said he was struck by the weight of the moment when he stepped into the mayor’s suite.
“I had a flood of emotions. I thought a lot about my parents, and my mother in particular who is not with us. She’s an ancestor.”
The 47-year-old mayor-elect said it reminded him “of what this moment means for people around the city, who want the city to be united. The real opportunity to bring people together and how the office of the mayor has a role and responsibility to do that — I really began to feel that once I crossed that threshold.”
Talking briefly to reporters after the meeting, Johnson wouldn’t divulge any specifics from their talk, and he wouldn’t discuss the flood of city issues that’ll transition to his administration, too.
“We are uniting this city today, and this moment is quite frankly a historic moment, where the first Black woman, LGBTQ, transitioned her administration to another Black man,” Johnson said. “It’s a very great day for the city of Chicago. We are going to be not only united, we’re gonna be a strong city.”
As for any hard feelings from a mayoral campaign in which Lightfoot routinely referred to him as a “false prophet,” Johnson said “we didn’t really talk about the campaign, because that’s over. We talked about the future.”
Lightfoot greeted Johnson when he arrived at City Hall, but she didn’t talk to reporters beyond joking with news photographers about whether they got “the shot” of her shaking hands with her pending replacement.
Johnson said he was “deeply humbled by the gracious reception of Mayor Lori Lightfoot,” calling her “someone that I believe that the city of Chicago will continue to appreciate in the coming days.”
“I’ve been incredibly grateful for her love and dedication to the city of Chicago, and of course, her commitment to make sure that we bring the city together, and that the Johnson administration starts off, literally, on the right foot,” the Cook County commissioner said.
“Her and her entire team have worked tirelessly to make sure the transition is smooth. And our collective teams have had a very collegial exchange, which is something that … should be comforting to the city of Chicago.”
As for any advice imparted by Lightfoot, Johnson said “she was very intentional about making sure that the city of Chicago and this wondrous position — to digest that, to take it in and to appreciate it. It’s really good advice.”