New Chicago mayor taps teachers’ union official as chief of staff

, Spencer Irvine, Comment closed

Incoming Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced staff additions as he forms his mayoral administration in the Windy City, and it confirms the influence of his former employer, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).

Johnson selected Annette Guzman as the city’s budget director and Jennifer Johnson as deputy mayor for education.

But Johnson’s picks highlighted, in the words of the Chicago Sun-Times, “the continued influence of County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Chicago Teachers Union.”

Guzman was Preckwinkle’s budget director in the Cook County government. Her past work history includes working as a deputy Cook County assessor, a deputy chief administrator, a chief of staff for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and a corporate attorney at Sidley Austin LLP.

Jennifer Johnson was CTU’s chief of staff and employed Johnson as a paid union organizer. She is a former high school history teacher.

On cue, CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said that Jennifer Johnson is “a unifier, a bridge builder” and that she is the “best thing that ever happened to education in Chicago.”

On the campaign trail, Brandon Johnson’s opponent, Paul Vallas, questioned whether Johnson could fairly represent Chicago’s taxpayers when negotiating collective bargaining agreements with his former employer. There were also questions whether Johnson remained on union payroll during his mayoral campaign.

The Sun-Times noted, in its coverage, “The same question could be asked of Jennifer Johnson, the CTU’s “’chief negotiator.'”