Eleven of the 49 aldermen currently serving on the City Council were appointed to their position by either Mayors Rahm Emanuel or Richard M. Daley, making it a fairly frequent occurrence. But the process remains opaque to public. The Mayor’s Office isn’t releasing details on the search for Ald. Will Burns’ (4) replacement, nor are members of a five-member task-force he created to head up the search.
Aldertrack reached out to three of the five members on the search committee for the 4th Ward vacancy following Ald. Burns’ decision to step down from the Council after he accepted a job at Airbnb as of March 1.
But two of those members, Paula Wolff with the Illinois Justice Project and Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson of the Near South Planning Board, said all questions regarding the search process must be submitted to the Mayor’s Press Office, which in turn told Aldertrack, “We don’t have any further updates to share at this time. Feel free to check back at a later date, though.”
One of the 18 applicants who applied for the position, Tracey Bey, who ran and lost against Ald. Burns in 2015, said she has yet to hear from the task force, adding that the only information she’s heard about the search since she applied two weeks ago is from a recent Hyde-Park Herald article. She said that the way she read it, candidates won’t be contacted or interviewed until three finalists are chosen.
Evonne Taylor, the treasurer for Sophia King, who filed a D-1 on March 9th to help support her candidacy for alderman, refused to provide any details on the status of King’s application, saying it was “inappropriate” to discuss the process until it’s complete.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to announce Ald. Burns’ replacement on April 29, and the new alderman will be sworn in at the May 18th City Council meeting.
The Mayor’s Press Office said it “anticipates” a final decision on who will succeed Burns’ as Chairman of the Council’s Education Committee will be released before the April Council Meeting. And that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be filled by the committee’s vice chair, Ald. Michele Smith (43).
In an email sent to Aldertrack, the Mayor’s press office wrote, “The Mayor is in the process of determining who will fill the vacancy. The Vice Chairman of a committee does not automatically succeed the Chair in cases of a vacancy.”
That appointment will be introduced in the form of a resolution to the full City Council for approval.
Aldermen who were appointed to their position (in ward order):
1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno (2010) – appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley to replace Manny Flores, who resigned to chair the Illinois Commerce Commission
8th Ward Ald. Michelle Harris (2006) – Mayor Daley appointed her to fill Todd Stroger’s seat after he won Cook County Board President. Prior to her appointment to the City Council, she was secretary to the Cook County Board under former President John Stroger.
22nd Ward Ald. Rick Muñoz (1993) – appointed by Mayor Daley to replace his former boss and mentor, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis (1996) – appointed by Mayor Daley to replace Ambrosio Medrano, who was convicted for accepting bribes as part of the federal Silver Shovel Investigation.
26th Ward Ald. Roberto Maldonado (2009) – appointed by Mayor Daley to fill retiring-Ald. Billy Ocasio’s vacant seat
28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin (2011) – appointed to finish mentor Ed Smith’s term in January 2011, and was elected to the seat a month later.
33rd Ward Ald. Deb Mell (2013) – appointed by Mayor Emanuel following the retirement of her father, longtime Ald. Dick Mell.
34th Ward Ald. Carrie Austin (1994) – appointed by Mayor Daley to fill the vacancy left by her husband, Lemuel Austin, Jr., who died of a heart attack.
37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts (2000) – appointed by Mayor Daley to replace Ald. Percy Giles, who was convicted of bribery as part of the Operation Silver Shovel investigation.
39th Ward Ald. Marge Laurino (1994) – appointed by Mayor Daley to replace her father, Alderman and Democratic Committeeman Anthony Laurino.
44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney (2003) – appointed by Mayor Daley to replace former 44th Ward Alderman Bernard Hansen. Tunney’s appointment over the non-Daley gay independent Rick Ingram was controversial at the time, although the appointment of the city’s first openly gay alderman was widely hailed as a step forward.