The Chicago City Council will see significant turnover next year as a wave of aldermen will not be running for reelection. The reasons vary but here’s a list of aldermen who started 2022 in office but won’t be running to keep those seats when the municipal elections are held in February.
North Side Ald. Tom Tunney, Chicago’s first openly gay alderman, announced he will not run for reelection to the Chicago City Council after his term expires next year and endorsed his chief of staff to take over.
The alderman of the 44th Ward since late 2002, Tunney said in a statement that he would step down as alderman of the ward that includes Lakeview and Wrigleyville after nearly two decades of being on the council.
There has been speculation he might run for mayor against incumbent first-term Mayor Lori Lightfoot. If he did run for mayor, that would add another one-time Lightfoot ally to the field seeking to replace her.
Ald. Leslie Hairston, a longtime member of the Chicago City Council who has represented the Hyde Park and South Shore neighborhoods for nearly a quarter century, said in late August she would join the growing list of aldermen retiring at the end of this term.
The alderman of the 5th Ward since 1999, Hairston has been a member of the council’s progressive caucus and led the neighborhood through the contentious selection and development of the upcoming Obama Presidential Center next door.
Longtime Chicago alderman Michele Smith, 43rd, stepped down from her seat on City Council on Aug. 12, months before the end of her third term. In her announcement, she cited “deepening responsibilities towards family and friends.”
At the time of her announcement, Smith, whose ward encompasses Lincoln Park and Old Town, became the third North Side lakefront alderman to announce a decision not to run for reelection next year. She was first elected to the seat in 2011. As of late August, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had yet to name her replacement, though she had developed a list of finalists.
Ald. Harry Osterman, who has represented parts of Uptown, Edgewater and Andersonville for more than a decade, said he is retiring from the City Council at the end of his term next year.
The alderman of the 48th Ward since 2011 and son of former Ald. Kathy Osterman, he said in a newsletter notice that he will not run for a fourth term. A former longtime Illinois state representative before being elected alderman, Osterman said “this was not an easy decision,” but felt “that the time is right to make this transition.”
James Cappleman, alderman since 2011 for the North Side’s 46th Ward encompassing parts of Lakeview and Uptown, announced in early July that he will not seek another term.
“I feel fortunate to be doing work that I enjoy every day, but I also know it feels right for me to move on to another adventure with the assurance that our community is now in a good place to keep moving forward to accomplish more,” he said in a newsletter announcing his decision. His reelection bids in 2015 and 2019 were tight races that highlighted the difficulty of managing a gentrifying ward.
Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez, one of Mayor Lightfoot’s biggest critics on the City Council, is trying to succeed her in office.
Lopez, whose ward includes the Back of the Yards and West Englewood neighborhoods, announced in April that he would run for mayor in the 2023 election, meaning he would forego his seat on the City Council.
Elected to the council in 2015, Lopez has criticized and publicly feuded with Lightfoot since soon after she took office in 2019. He has accused her of being negative, petty and vindictive — traits that some of Lopez’s critics say he shares. Lightfoot, in turn, has accused Lopez of “carrying water for” indicted Ald. Ed Burke, Lopez’s ward neighbor and ally in the 14th ward.
South Side Ald. Sophia King announced she is running for mayor of Chicago, the first woman challenger in the crowded field of those taking on incumbent first-term Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
King, whose 4th ward includes parts of downtown and Hyde Park, is a former school administrator and community volunteer who was appointed alderman by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2016.
In her time on the City Council, King is best known citywide for her efforts to rename a pair of high-profile streets.
She unsuccessfully led a push to re-christen downtown’s Balbo Drive in honor of Ida B. Wells, the African American journalist who worked to expose lynchings and pushed for women’s voting rights. King also worked with Ald. David Moore, 17th, to rename Lake Shore Drive to honor Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, the Black founder of Chicago, in 2021.
South Side Ald. Roderick Sawyer, whose father was mayor in the 1980s, announced in June that he’d run for City Hall’s top job.
Sawyer’s declaration marked an extraordinary break with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who selected him to be part of her City Council leadership team as chairman of the health and human services committee. Sawyer, who has represented the 6th Ward since 2011, criticized Lightfoot’s combative leadership style and said her contempt for aldermen makes it difficult for the council to get things done. If he runs for mayor, Sawyer would be unable to also run for reelection as alderman.
“I don’t think I would treat my colleagues as nemesis or an opposing party. We’re all partners in this,” Sawyer said. “That’s the approach we need to take.”
Chicago Ald. George Cardenas is a Democratic Party nominee to join the Cook County Board of Review. In the primary in June, he defeated embattled incumbent Tammy Wendt. The alderman of the 12th Ward and Lightfoot’s current deputy floor leader, Cardenas is running uncontested for the seat on the property tax appeals body in the November 2022 election. Should he win the board of review seat, he would not run for reelection as alderman.
Under a cloud for two years since her ward office was raided by federal agents, 34th Ward Ald. Carrie Austin was indicted on federal bribery charges along with her chief of staff, and said she would not be running for reelection. Her decision was deemed a sacrifice by members of City Council’s Black Caucus, who moved her ward up from the Far South Side under the citywide ward remap that will take effect next year.
Austin and her top aide, Chester Wilson, are alleged to have shepherded a new real-estate development through City Hall bureaucracy beginning in 2016 and getting home-improvement perks from a developer seeking to influence them in exchange.
Austin, 72, was charged with one count of conspiring to use interstate facilities to promote bribery and other charges, according to prosecutors. She and Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, are both sitting aldermen under indictment. Burke has not said if he’s running for reelection. A third, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, 11th, was convicted in 2023 and resigned.
West Side Ald. Michael Scott stepped down from the City Council in May to join Cinespace Studios, a movie and television studio company in Chicago. Not long after his announcement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed his sister, Monique Scott, to take his place leading the 24th Ward. The mayor defended the pick by saying she was interested in preserving the momentum from economic development and wasn’t swayed by the family connection.
“It’s not the fact that she is … the alderman’s sister; it’s that she was born and raised in the ward, absolutely knows the crucial issues that are important for that ward, and is committed to making sure we move those forward,” Lightfoot said at the time. “It’s an easy, frankly lazy throwaway to say, ‘Oh, she’s the alderman’s sister.’ Look at who she is. Look at what she’s been able to do with her life. Look at how committed she is to the 24th Ward and residents of North Lawndale and then make your assessment.”
Lightfoot has since tapped Michael Scott to serve as a member the Chicago Board of Education, which also drew criticism.
In July, former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson became the latest Chicago politician — and the first ever named Daley — to check in at a federal prison.
Thompson, who was sentenced to 4 months in prison for tax-related offenses following his conviction in February, surrendered at the low security facility in Oxford, Wisconsin, which has housed a lengthy list of crooked Illinois elected officials, mobsters and other high-profile prisoners over the years.
Because his sentence was under one year, Thompson, 53, must serve most or all of it. Barring any behavioral issues he should be out in time for Christmas in 2022.
The 11th Ward alderman and scion of the Daley political dynasty, was later replaced by Nicole Lee, a director at United Airlines and the first Asian American woman and the first Chinese American to serve as a Chicago alderman.
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August 30, 2022 at 02:18PM