Chicago, IL

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's First City Council Meeting Results in Allies Installed and Migrant Spending Vote Delayed

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Mayor Johnson solidifies support while facing obstacles in early council session
New Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson oversees first Chicago City Council MeetingPhoto byBy TDKR Chicago 101/Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Today, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson presided over his first city council meeting, making notable strides and encountering challenges as he embarked on his mayoral tenure. During the meeting, several key developments took place, including the installation of allies, a dig at Fox News, and a delay on the migrant spending vote.

At the beginning of the meeting, Johnson solemnly declared that he had "breaking news."

“This City Council meeting is being recorded live from Naperville,” Johnson said, a dig at a “Fox and Friends” episode during which a reporter interviewed two men in that suburb about their lack of confidence in the new mayor.

One significant achievement for Mayor Johnson was securing early victories by successfully installing allies in key positions within the city council. This strategic move ensures that the mayor has a supportive network in place to help execute his policy agenda and implement his vision for the city. By appointing trusted individuals to key roles, Johnson aims to foster collaboration and streamline decision-making processes, enabling efficient governance.

During this meeting, Mayor Brandon Johnson achieved an early political triumph as aldermen approved his proposal to restructure the City Council. The plan involved granting committee chairmanships to several of Johnson's supporters, effectively rewarding his allies within the council.

Several key individuals were replaced as the head of committees, including Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), the leader of the initial reorganization which put him in charge of the Finance Committee and who warned the new mayor not to change it. He was replaced by Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd). Additionally, Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) replaced Ald. Jason Ervin (28th)as chair of the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity while Ald Ervin replaced Ald Dowell as chair of the Budget Committee. See a complete list of the council committee members here.

This outcome signifies a shift away from previous discussions about establishing a more independent council, which had been advocated by aldermen in the recent past. With a decisive 41-9 vote, Mayor Johnson secured an initial victory in his leadership role, highlighting his ability to garner support and shape the composition of the City Council to align with his administration's objectives.

However, the city council also encountered a legislative hurdle on Wednesday involving a contentious proposal aiming to allocate $51 million from surplus funds to address the overwhelming strain of a migrant crisis in Chicago. Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th), Ray Lopez (15th), and Anthony Napolitano (41st) employed a parliamentary tactic to delay the final vote on the fund transfer. By utilizing this maneuver, any two Council members possess the authority to postpone any matter for at least one meeting without the need to provide a specific reason or rationale for their decision. Consequently, the plan to offer a financial remedy for the migrant crisis in Chicago was not voted on and put on hold.

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