Chicago City Council

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Chicago City Council
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
History
FoundedDecember 13, 1837; 186 years ago (1837-12-13)
Leadership
Brandon Johnson (D)
since May 15, 2023
Vice Mayor
Walter Burnett (D)
since May 15, 2023
President pro tempore
Sam Nugent (D)
since May 15, 2023
Floor Leader
Vacant
since November 6, 2023
Assistant President pro tempore
Stephanie Coleman (D)
since May 15, 2023
Anna Valencia (D)
since January 25, 2017
Structure
Seats50
Political groups
Majority
  •   Democratic (47)[a]

Minority

Length of term
4 years
Elections
Two-round system
Last election
2023
Next election
2027
Meeting place
Council Chambers in Chicago City Hall

The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Chicago in Illinois. It consists of 50 alderpersons elected from 50 wards to serve four-year terms.[1] The council is called into session regularly, usually monthly, to consider ordinances, orders, and resolutions whose subject matter includes code changes, utilities, taxes, and many other issues. The Chicago City Council Chambers are located in Chicago City Hall, as are the downtown offices of the individual alderpersons and staff.

The presiding officer of the council is the Mayor of Chicago, who is usually non-voting, except in rare cases, such as to break a tie. The secretary is the City Clerk of Chicago. Both positions are city-wide elected offices. In the absence of the mayor, an alderperson elected to the position of President Pro Tempore serves as the presiding officer.[2][3]

Originally established as the Common Council in 1837, it was renamed City Council in 1876. The Council assumed its modern form of 50 wards electing one alderperson each in 1923.

Composition[edit]

The most recent city council election was the 2023 Chicago aldermanic elections. The current term began on May 15, 2023.

Alderperson elections are officially nonpartisan; party affiliations below are informational only. Council members also self-organize into caucuses, or blocs that address particular issues.[4] Active caucuses include the Black Caucus, Democratic Socialist Caucus, Latino Caucus, LGBT Caucus, and Progressive Reform Caucus.[4][5]

Current composition of the Chicago City Council
Ward Name Took office Party[a] Main community areas[b]
1 Daniel La Spata 2019 Democratic[6] West Town, Logan Square
2 Brian Hopkins 2015 Democratic[7] Near North Side, Lincoln Park
3 Pat Dowell 2007 Democratic[6] Grand Boulevard, Near South Side, Douglas
4 Lamont Robinson 2023 Democratic[8] Douglas, Kenwood, Near South Side
5 Desmon Yancy 2023 Democratic[9] Hyde Park, South Shore, Woodlawn
6 William Hall 2023 Democratic[10] Greater Grand Crossing, Chatham
7 Greg Mitchell 2015 Democratic[6] South Deering, South Chicago, South Shore
8 Michelle Harris 2006[c] Democratic[6] Avalon Park, Pullman
9 Anthony Beale 1999 Democratic[6] Roseland, West Pullman, Riverdale
10 Peter Chico 2023 Democratic[citation needed] South Deering, Hegewisch
11 Nicole Lee 2022[c] Democratic[11] Bridgeport, New City, Armour Square
12 Julia Ramirez 2023 Democratic[12] Brighton Park, McKinley Park, New City
13 Marty Quinn 2011 Democratic[13] Clearing, Garfield Ridge
14 Jeylú Gutiérrez 2023 Democratic[citation needed] Archer Heights, Gage Park
15 Ray Lopez 2015 Democratic[6] New City, Gage Park, West Englewood
16 Stephanie Coleman 2019 Democratic[6] West Englewood, Englewood, Chicago Lawn
17 David Moore 2015 Democratic[6] Auburn Gresham, West Englewood, Chicago Lawn
18 Derrick Curtis 2015 Democratic[6] Ashburn
19 Matt O'Shea 2011 Democratic[6] Beverly, Mount Greenwood, Morgan Park
20 Jeanette Taylor 2019 Democratic[14] New City, Washington Park, Woodlawn
21 Ronnie Mosley 2023 Democratic[15] Washington Heights, West Pullman, Morgan Park
22 Mike Rodriguez 2019 Democratic[6] South Lawndale, Garfield Ridge
23 Silvana Tabares 2018[c] Democratic[16] Garfield Ridge, West Lawn, West Elsdon
24 Monique Scott 2022[c] Democratic[17] North Lawndale
25 Byron Sigcho-Lopez 2019 Democratic[6] Lower West Side, South Lawndale
26 Jessie Fuentes 2023 Democratic[18] Humboldt Park, West Town, Logan Square
27 Walter Burnett 1995 Democratic[6] Near West Side, West Town, Humboldt Park, Near North Side
28 Jason Ervin 2011[c] Democratic[6] Near West Side, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park
29 Chris Taliaferro 2015 Democratic[6] Austin
30 Ruth Cruz 2023 Democratic[citation needed] Portage Park, Belmont Cragin, Irving Park
31 Felix Cardona 2019 Democratic[6] Belmont Cragin, Hermosa
32 Scott Waguespack 2007 Democratic[6] Logan Square, Lincoln Park, North Center
33 Rossana Rodríguez 2019 Independent[19] Albany Park, Irving Park
34 Bill Conway 2023 Democratic[20] Near West Side, Loop
35 Carlos Ramirez-Rosa 2015 Democratic[6] Avondale, Logan Square
36 Gil Villegas 2015 Democratic[21] Belmont Cragin, West Town, Montclare
37 Emma Mitts 2000[c] Democratic[6] Austin, Humboldt Park
38 Nick Sposato 2011 Independent[22] Dunning, O'Hare, Portage Park
39 Sam Nugent 2019 Democratic[23] North Park, Forest Glen
40 Andre Vasquez 2019 Democratic[24] Lincoln Square, West Ridge
41 Anthony Napolitano 2015 Independent[25] O'Hare, Norwood Park
42 Brendan Reilly 2007 Democratic[6] Near North Side, Loop
43 Timmy Knudsen 2022 Democratic[26] Lincoln Park
44 Bennett Lawson 2023 Democratic[27] Lake View
45 Jim Gardiner 2019 Democratic[6] Jefferson Park, Forest Glen, Portage Park
46 Angela Clay 2023 Democratic[28] Uptown, Lake View
47 Matt Martin 2019 Democratic[29] North Center, Lincoln Square, Lake View, Uptown
48 Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth 2023 Democratic[30][31] Edgewater, Uptown
49 Maria Hadden 2019 Democratic[32][33] Rogers Park
50 Debra Silverstein 2011 Democratic[6] West Ridge

Standing committees[edit]

Chicago City Hall, 1914

The city council is internally organized into subject-specific standing committees. Once proposed legislation is drafted, it is assigned to a specific standing committee. After a hearing and deliberation process, the committee votes on whether to report the proposed legislation to the full council, along with recommendations.[34]

The committees are created, and their leaders and members are selected, through a resolution passed by the whole council.[2] Historically, mayors have played a central role in selecting committee chairs.[3][35]

As of May 2023, a majority of incoming City Council members after the 2023 election had agreed to a plan for the following subcommittees and chair assignments:[36][37]

Committee Chair Vice Chair
Aviation Matt O'Shea Derrick Curtis
Budget and Government Operations Jason Ervin Nicole Lee
Committees and Rules Michelle Harris William Hall
Contracting Oversight and Equity Emma Mitts Daniel La Spata
Economic, Capital and Technology Development Gil Villegas Ronnie Mosley
Education and Child Development Jeanette Taylor Angela Clay
Environmental Protection and Energy Maria Hadden Timmy Knudsen
Ethics and Government Oversight Matt Martin Maria Hadden
Finance Pat Dowell Bill Conway
Revenue (subcommittee) TBD TBD
Health and Human Relations Rossana Rodríguez Julia Ramirez
Housing and Real Estate Byron Sigcho-Lopez Greg Mitchell
Immigration and Refugee Rights Andre Vasquez Jeanette Taylor
License and Consumer Protection Debra Silverstein Peter Chico
Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Daniel La Spata Ruth Cruz
Police and Fire Chris Taliaferro Lamont Robinson
Public Safety Brian Hopkins Desmon Yancy
Special Events Nick Sposato Monique Scott
Transportation and Public Way Greg Mitchell Andre Vasquez
Workforce Development Mike Rodriguez Jeylú Gutiérrez
Youth Employment (subcommittee) Jessie Fuentes Michael Rodriguez
Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards Vacant Bennett Lawson

History[edit]

Map of city of Chicago ward system in 1904. Wards with lower populations have larger boundaries. External link: current map of Chicago wards

Chicago has been divided into wards since 1837, beginning with 6 wards. Until 1923, each ward elected two members to the city council. In 1923, the system that exists today was adopted with 50 wards, each with one council member elected by the ward. In accordance with Illinois state law, ward borders must be shifted after every federal census. This law is intended to give the population of the ward equal representation based by the size of the population of Chicago.[38]

Chicago is unusual among major United States cities in the number of wards and representative alderpersons that it maintains. It has been noted that the current ward system promotes diverse ethnic and cultural representation on the city council.[39]

In June 2021, the State of Illinois adopted a statute that changed the title of City Council members to alderperson (plural: alderpersons), replacing the gendered term aldermen.[40][41] However, some members of City Council continue to use the term alderman or instead use alderwoman or alder.[42]

Corruption[edit]

Chicago City Council Chambers has long been the center of public corruption in Chicago.[43][44] The first conviction of Chicago alderpersons and Cook County Commissioners for accepting bribes to rig a crooked contract occurred in 1869.[43] Between 1972 and 1999, 26 current or former Chicago alderpersons were convicted for official corruption.[45][46][47] Between 1973 and 2012, 31 alderpersons were convicted of corruption. Approximately 100 alderpersons served in that period, which is a conviction rate of about one-third.[43][48]

Fourteen of the Chicago's City Council's nineteen committees routinely violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act during the last four months of 2007 by not keeping adequate written records of their meetings.[49] Chicago City Council committees violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act and their own rules by meeting and taking actions without a quorum at least four times over the same four-month span.[50]

Over half of elected Chicago alderpersons took illegal campaign contributions totalling $282,000 in 2013.[51][52][53]

Election[edit]

Map of the 50 wards of the City of Chicago in use since 2023
(Interactive version)

Chicago alderpersons are elected by popular vote every four years, on the last Tuesday in February in the year following national mid-term elections. A run-off election, if no candidate garners more than fifty percent of the vote, is held on the first Tuesday in April. The election is held on a non-partisan basis. New terms begin at noon on the third Monday in May following the election.[54]

Authority and roles[edit]

The council, in conjunction with the Mayor of Chicago, hears recommendations from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and then may grant individual properties Chicago Landmark status. The Council also has the power to redraw ward boundaries, resulting in the heavily gerrymandered map seen today.

Law[edit]

The Journal of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Chicago is the official publication of the acts of the City Council.[55] The Municipal Code of Chicago is the codification of Chicago's local ordinances of a general and permanent nature.[55][56] Between May 18, 2011, and August 2011, the first 100 days of the first term of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 2,845 ordinances and orders were introduced to the Council.[57]

Aldermanic privilege[edit]

Chicago's alderpersons are generally given exceptional deference, called "aldermanic privilege" or "aldermanic prerogative", to control city decisions and services within their ward.[58][59] This is an unwritten and informal practice that emerged in the early 20th century and gives alderpersons control over "zoning, licenses, permits, property-tax reductions, city contracts and patronage jobs" in their wards.[60][61] Political scientists have suggested that this facilitates corruption.[60][61] The system has been described as "50 aldermen serving essentially as mayors of 50 wards."[62]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Aldermanic elections are officially nonpartisan; party affiliations are informational only.
  2. ^ Main community areas overlapping with the ward. Only community areas that make up 15% of the area of the ward or more are listed.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Year of appointment, not of first election.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "65 ILCS 20/ Revised Cities and Villages Act of 1941". Illinois General Assembly – Illinois Compiled Statutes. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  2. ^ a b g.angelo (September 21, 2015). "About City Government & the Chicago City Council". City Clerk of Chicago. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Pratt, John Byrne, Juan Perez Jr , Gregory. "Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot aces first test of her power: City Council overhaul approved". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved May 29, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b "City Council Caucus Chairs on Chicago's Future". WTTW News. July 3, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Joravsky, Mick Dumke, Ben (May 20, 2015). "The real caucuses in the Chicago City Council". Chicago Reader. Retrieved May 31, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Sandvoss, Steven S., ed. (October 20, 2022). "State of Illinois Central Committees". Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Board of Elections. pp. 75–78. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  7. ^ "2nd Ward candidate for alderman: Brian Hopkins". February 15, 2019.
  8. ^ Robinson, Lamont (October 28, 2018). "Democratic nominee in Illinois House 5th District: Lamont J. Robinson Jr" (Interview). Interviewed by Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  9. ^ Yancy, Desmon (March 15, 2023). "Desmon Yancy: City Council 5th Ward". 2023 Chicago Runoff Election Voter Guide (Interview). Interviewed by WTTW. WTTW. Archived from the original on May 26, 2023. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  10. ^ Hall, William E. (March 15, 2023). "William E. Hall: City Council 6th Ward". 2023 Chicago Runoff Election Voter Guide (Interview). Interviewed by WTTW. WTTW. Archived from the original on May 26, 2023. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  11. ^ Lee, Nicole (March 15, 2023). "Nicole Lee: City Council 11th Ward". 2023 Chicago Runoff Election Voter Guide (Interview). Interviewed by WTTW. WTTW. Archived from the original on May 26, 2023. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  12. ^ Ramirez, Julia (March 15, 2023). "Julia Ramirez: City Council 12th Ward". 2023 Chicago Runoff Election Voter Guide (Interview). Interviewed by WTTW. WTTW. Archived from the original on May 25, 2023. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  13. ^ Quinn, Marty (March 15, 2023). "Marty Quinn: City Council 13th Ward". 2023 Chicago Runoff Election Voter Guide (Interview). Interviewed by WTTW. WTTW. Archived from the original on May 25, 2023. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  14. ^ Taylor, Jeanette (December 10, 2018). "2019 IVI-IPO Chicago Aldermanic Questionnaire" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  15. ^ Reed, Atavia (May 22, 2023). "Ronnie Mosley, City Council's Youngest Member, Wants To Make The New 21st Ward 'The Best' In Chicago". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved May 25, 2023. Back home in Chicago, Mosley worked for Ald. Michelle Harris' (8th) office and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2015 reelection campaign. Shortly after, he founded a consulting firm to aid the likes of Gov. JB Pritzker and the Obama Foundation.
  16. ^ Spielman, Fran (June 15, 2018). "Mayor Emanuel taps Mike Madigan ally Silvana Tabares for 23rd Ward seat". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  17. ^ "Monique L. Scott, Incumbent | 2023 Chicago Runoff Election".
  18. ^ "Jessica "Jessie" Fuentes | 2023 Chicago Election".
  19. ^ Rodriguez, Rossana (December 10, 2018). "2019 IVI-IPO Chicago Aldermanic Questionnaire" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  20. ^ "Bill Conway | 2023 Chicago Election".
  21. ^ Cherone, Heather; Nitkin, Alex (November 1, 2019). "Villegas says he wants to replace Arroyo as 36th Ward Democratic committeeperson". The Daily Line. Archived from the original on November 2, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  22. ^ "'Independent' Sposato To Step Down As Dem Committeeman, Stay On As Alderman". DNAinfo.com. October 10, 2017. Archived from the original on January 27, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  23. ^ Nugent, Samantha (January 27, 2019). "39th Ward candidate for alderman: Samantha 'Sam' Nugent" (Interview). Interviewed by Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  24. ^ Vasquez, Andre (December 11, 2018). "2019 IVI-IPO Chicago Aldermanic Questionnaire" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  25. ^ "As Napolitano runs for a second term, unions that powered his 2015 run fall silent". The Daily Line. February 4, 2019. Archived from the original on July 11, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  26. ^ "Timmy Knudsen, Incumbent | 2023 Chicago Runoff Election".
  27. ^ "Bennett Lawson | 2023 Chicago Election".
  28. ^ "Angela Clay | 2023 Chicago Runoff Election".
  29. ^ Martin, Matt (December 21, 2018). "2019 IVI-IPO Chicago Aldermanic Questionnaire" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  30. ^ "Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth | 2023 Chicago Runoff Election".
  31. ^ "Meet Leni".
  32. ^ "Maria Hadden, Incumbent | 2023 Chicago Election".
  33. ^ @erin_hegarty (February 6, 2021). "Still deliberating, but here's the weighted vote breakdown in the appointment to fill the vacant seat of former state Sen. Heather Steans (taken from an emailed public notice from the 48th Ward Dems, and with Maria Hadden as proxy for Cassidy and Osterman proxy for Silverstein):" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  34. ^ Haider, Annum (February 12, 2019). "Chicago City Council". Better Government Association. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  35. ^ Dumke, Mick (May 15, 2019). "At Chicago's City Council, Committees Are Used to Reward Political Favors and Fund Patronage". ProPublica. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  36. ^ Spielman, Fran (May 8, 2023). "Mayor-elect Johnson forges 'Unity Plan' to reorganize the new City Council". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  37. ^ Kapos, Shia (May 8, 2023). "Winners and losers in Johnson's world". POLITICO. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  38. ^ "Ward System". www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  39. ^ "Why Chicago Has 50 Aldermen". NBC Chicago. March 29, 2011. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  40. ^ "Pritzker signs law that will make alderman name more inclusive". FOX 32 Chicago. June 18, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2023.
  41. ^ "Illinois General Assembly - Bill Status for SB0825". www.ilga.gov. Retrieved December 10, 2023.
  42. ^ Sabella, Jen (June 18, 2021). "State Adopts 'Alderperson' To Describe Chicago City Council Members — But Some Alderpeople Aren't Thrilled". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  43. ^ a b c Simpson, Dick; Nowlan, James; Gradel, Thomas J.; Mouritsen Zmuda, Melissa; Sterrett, David; Cantor, Douglas (February 15, 2012). "Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption; Anti-Corruption Report Number 5" (PDF). University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
  44. ^ Grossman, Ron (July 31, 2013). "Chicago political history rife with nepotism, aldermanic dynasties". Chicago Tribune. Tronc, Inc. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  45. ^ Reardon, Patrick T. (January 31, 1999). "Aldermen Rogues' Gallery Opens '99 Wing; Jones Is 25th City Council Member Convicted Since 1972". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 16, 2013.
  46. ^ Gradel, Thomas J.; Simpson, Dick; Zimelis, Andris (February 3, 2009). "Curing Corruption In Illinois: Anti-Corruption Report #1" (PDF). University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 26, 2009. Retrieved February 23, 2009.
  47. ^ Bogira, Steve (January 27, 2012). "Aldermanic rap sheet". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015.
  48. ^ "Chicago's 'hall of shame'". Chicago Tribune. February 24, 2012. Archived from the original on February 26, 2012.
  49. ^ Christoffer, Erica; Schlikerman, Becky (May 19, 2008). "Off the Record: Chicago City Council Committees Evade The Law, Experts Say". Chicagotalks. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012.
  50. ^ Christoffer, Erica; Schlikerman, Becky (May 19, 2008). "Out of Order: Council Committees Evade The Law". The Beachwood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012.
  51. ^ "FBI seizes files as Chicago aldermen oust oversight". illinoispolicy.org. November 17, 2015. Archived from the original on May 7, 2018. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  52. ^ "Report: Aldermen Got $282,000 in Illegal Campaign Contributions in 2013". wttw.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  53. ^ "More than half of Chicago aldermen took illegal campaign cash in 2013". chicagonow.com. Archived from the original on May 27, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  54. ^ "State of Illinois Candidate's Guide 2019" (PDF). State Board of Elections. August 6, 2018. p. 32. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  55. ^ a b Julia Ellis, Chicago City Clerk Legislative Counsel (November 20, 2013). The Making of Chicago City Law – How It Works. OpenGov Foundation / YouTube. Archived from the original on January 20, 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  56. ^ Chicago City Council Journal of 27 June 1990 Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, p. 17764
  57. ^ Dumke, Mick (August 30, 2011). "New City Council, just about the same as the old City Council". Chicago Reader. Wrapports LLC. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  58. ^ "Curious City: What duties Chicago alderman are responsible for – WBEZ 91.5 Chicago". wbez.org. Archived from the original on March 31, 2015.
  59. ^ Aldermanic Privilege. Archived March 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine Christopher Thale, Encyclopedia of Chicago.
  60. ^ a b "Crony chronicles: Aldermanic privilege – Prohibition, prostitution and Chicago's mini-fiefdoms". Illinois Policy – An independent government watchdog. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015.
  61. ^ a b Sisson, Patrick (May 31, 2019). "How aldermanic privilege shaped Chicago". Curbed Chicago. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  62. ^ "Chicago City Council; budget; parking meters". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. May 15, 2013. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015.

External links[edit]