Brandon Johnson to be sworn in at Credit Union 1 Arena; City Hall open house to follow

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (rleft) was the featured speaker at a March 30 campaign rally at UIC Credit Union 1 Arena for mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson (right). Now, the victorious Johnson will return to the arena for his inauguration on May 15.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Brandon Johnson will be sworn in as Chicago’s 57th mayor at scene of one of his biggest campaign triumphs.

Inauguration ceremonies for Johnson and the new City Council will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 15 at Credit Union 1 Arena, 525 S. Racine.

The arena formerly known as UIC Pavilion was the scene of the March 30 rally for Johnson headlined by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. That event — originally scheduled for the UIC Forum, but moved to the arena to accommodate more people — helped energize Johnson’s base, boost turnout among young people and propel Johnson into the mayor’s office.

Ever since the 1983 election of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor, inauguration ceremonies have been followed by an open house at City Hall, where everyday Chicagoans have an opportunity to wait in line to enter the mayor’s fifth-floor office and greet their new chief executive.

Johnson’s swearing-in will be no different. The open house starts at 2 p.m., presumably following the traditional post-inaugural luncheon, at a time and place not yet announced.

“This was always a movement of, by, and for the people, and that’s the spirit we’re going to bring to Inauguration Day. I want every single Chicagoan to feel that together, we’re writing a new chapter for our city, because we are. The goal of this inauguration is to be as collaborative and inclusive as possible, because that will be the goal of our government in City Hall,” Johnson was quoted as saying in a press release.

Supporters cheer as they wait for Chicago mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson to speak at a rally at UIC Credit Union 1 Arena on March 30.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Johnson also announced his 13-member Inauguration Committee, charged with raising money to pay for the ceremony and related events.

Among them: Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.; prominent African American business leaders John Rogers, Jim Reynolds Jr. and Linda Johnson Rice; billionaire film producer Gigi Pritzker, cousin of Gov. J.B. Pritzker; state. Sen. Robert Martwick; Cook County Commissioner Josina Morita; and Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th).

Alex Sims-Jones, director of the Inaugural Event Series for Johnson, was quoted as saying inaugural committee members “look forward to celebrating this historic victory with the people of Chicago.”

The full slate of events “reflects the diversity of Chicago and the many vibrant cultures that call this city home. This symbolizes the crucial moment we’re in, and uniting people from every neighborhood and every community,” Sims-Jones was quoted as saying.

Brandon Johnson takes a selfie with a supporter after a campaign rally at UIC Credit Union 1 Arena in March, at which U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was the featured speaker. Johnson will return to the arena for his May 15 inauguration ceremony.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Four years ago, Lori Lightfoot was sworn in as mayor at Wintrust Arena with an inauguration ceremony that will be remembered for the combative tone she set.

Lightfoot owed her landslide election to the corruption scandal still swirling around indicted Ald. Edward Burke (14th).

She used her inaugural address to denounce the City Council as corrupt, then shame alderpersons into joining her and the crowd in a standing ovation for reform. After that, she rushed back to City Hall to sign an executive order stripping Council members of their prerogative over licensing and permitting in their wards.

“I felt as if I was a child being scolded by a parent. … That was a major mistake for an executive who has to work with a legislative body,” Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), Lightfoot’s hand-picked Budget Committee chair, told the Sun-Times on the day she endorsed Johnson over Lightfoot.

The stormy start laid the groundwork for Lightfoot’s contentious relationship with the Council. The tension prompted the Council to approve a 28-committee reorganization with designated committee chairs before the April 4 runoff.

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