Chicago, IL

Chicago Alderwoman States at least 21 or 22 City Council Members Have Resigned Not Just 12

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Chicago's "Great Resignation" continues showing a vote of no confidence in Mayor Lightfoot
Leslie Hairston, one of the more than 20 Chicago aldermen who have resignedWikipedia

At today's meeting of the Committee on Committees and Rules of the Chicago City Council there was a great deal of discussion about the wave of resignations by council members. The first order of business was to vote on approving newly appointed alderman for the 43rd Ward, Timothy Knudsen, to join the Rules Committee. While this vote was unanimous, some members raised an alarm about how new council members are being chosen and more importantly, how new members are being assigned to various committees.

The discussion around this issue centered on how committee assignments are delegated in general. Aldermen Sposato and Vasquez remarked on how with so many departures from the Chicago City Council and as many new members being appointed that it seems "newbies" are getting a lot of the assignments that perhaps more senior aldermen might want.

Alderwoman Scott added that she believed that with 21 or 22 Alderman resigning there would be a lot of opportunity for being assigned to new committees, some right away and others at the end of the term when those who have decided to stay until then leave. She also said that when she became an alderwoman, the mayor told her she would be assigned to the same committees as her predecessor.

While the Chicago City Council is no longer the "rubber stamp machine" it once was, Mayor Lightfoot has not made the council members jobs easy. Lightfoot has shown herself to be stubborn and many blame her for what seems to be a council that is constantly at odds, disorganized and at times out of control.

Sadlowski Garza, who for eight years has represented Chicago's Southeast Side, and who announced her resignation last Monday, says she won't miss what the City Council has turned into.

"Contentious, dysfunctional, I think would be good words," Sadlowski Garza said.

In a sudden move, Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th ward), Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s close ally on the council who she hand-picked to become the Education Committee chairman, resigned in May. He's been subsequently appointed to the Chicago Board of Education.

Considering Chicago politics, it's no wonder the Mayor is not concerned. With at least 13 of the departures occurring before the end of the term she will be able to appoint that many new alderman without a vote happening until February. The new members will then run as incumbents, increasing their chance of getting elected. If she wins the mayoral race, that would put her in a powerful position with regard to the council.

Lightfoot has made it clear that should she be reelected, she has no intentions of altering the way she handles the city council. This is one of the reasons a number of alderman are resigning.

“You have some aldermen that want to make sure they have the ability to legislate, but you have an administration that sometimes blocks legislation and won’t even let it have an up or down vote. And I think they’re frustrated with that, because it is frustrating,” said Ald. Gilbert Villegas.

Of those leaving the council, some are leaving early for a variety of reasons including the stress of the pandemic, the lack of legislative power and personal reasons, while at least three and possible four intend to run against Lightfoot in the next mayoral election. Alds. Raymond Lopez, 15th Ward; Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward; and Sophia King, 4th Ward have announced they'll run while Tom Tunney is still weighing a possible run for mayor,

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