WASHINGTON – Former President Barack Obama phoned Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson on Saturday afternoon and gave him some advice — about parenting.
Johnson, 47, and his wife Stacie are the parents of sons Owen, 15; Ethan, 10, and daughter Braedyn, 8.
Obama, whose political career was launched from Chicago’s South Side, phoned Johnson, who lives in Austin on the West Side, and the two shared “an extended conversation,” a source close to Johnson told the Sun-Times.
“Obama spent a decent amount of time giving advice about raising a family with young kids while holding executive office,” the source said.
In addition, “Obama made a general offer of assistance and support as Johnson takes office.”
Johnson, a paid staffer for the Chicago Teachers Union and a Cook County Board member, will be sworn-in as Chicago’s 57th mayor on May 15 after beating Paul Vallas in Tuesday’s run-off election.
Obama — and former first lady Michelle — have written and spoken often about some of the tough times they went through while juggling their careers and raising their two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Michelle Obama has commented on the stress Obama’s political career put on their marriage.
While the Obama daughters now are young adults, they were toddlers when Obama was a state senator, commuting between their condo in Hyde Park and Springfield.
One of the advantages of being president, Obama would often say, was living above the office — that’s the White House — and being able to make it home for dinner. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, when he was Obama’s first chief of staff, often joked that he worked in a family friendly White House — that is, family friendly for the Obama family.
The Sun-Times was also told that Vice President Kamala Harris called Johnson on Wednesday. Later in the day, President Joe Biden phoned Johnson, also to congratulate him.
In the call with the president, Johnson pitched Chicago to be the host of the 2024 Democratic convention, where Biden will be nominated for a second term.
Chicago’s main rival for the convention is Atlanta with New York also bidding for the event.
The host city convention decision is up to Biden. Chicago’s push for the convention is easier with Vallas out of the picture. It would not have been a plus to have as mayor someone who played footsie with Republicans — and who had been critical of the president.
One of Chicago’s major building projects is the Obama Presidential Center, under construction in Jackson Park, with City Hall involved in many aspects of the development in and around the complex.