In a brief statement tweeted Monday evening, Ald. Will Burns (4) confirmed that he’ll be leaving City Council, without explicitly mentioning his resignation or when it would happen. Listing a series of accomplishments on affordable housing, construction in the South Loop, and raising Chicago’s minimum wage, he closed with a brief line: “I can look back at the last five years and see the change that we have created together, and I believe that our momentum will continue in the future.”
Burns did not return requests for comment Sunday or Monday, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office confirmed his exit and said he would be missed: “I thank him for his time and commitment to public service, and wish him the best of luck.”
Patrick Corcoran, Communications Director for City Clerk Susana Mendoza, says while Mendoza had yet to receive resignation documents from Burns, it wouldn’t be unusual for the Clerk’s office not to be CC’d on a resignation email. Corcoran says the Mayor could declare a vacancy at the upcoming City Council meeting on February 10. Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty told the Chicago Tribune that Burns will start his new job with the company on March 1 as a senior advisor and director of Midwest policy. Mayor Emanuel has 60 days to fill Burns’ vacancy from the effective date of the resignation, so a replacement would presumably be in place by May.
In a statement, Emanuel said any resident of the ward would be able to apply for the position, and a commission of 4th Ward community leaders, led by Rules Committee Chair Michelle Harris (8) will help determine the finalists and submit their list to the Mayor, who will ultimately choose Burns’ successor. The Mayor’s office says information required for the application and a link will be announced in “the coming days.”
Illinois Election Law states: “If a vacancy occurs in an elective municipal office with a 4-year term and there remains an unexpired portion of the term of at least 28 months, and the vacancy occurs at least 130 days before the general municipal election next scheduled under the general election law, then the vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the term at that general municipal election.”
Jim Allen, Communications Director for the Chicago Board of Elections, says there will be a special election on February 28, 2017, the day of the Consolidated Primary Election. “If no candidate received more than 50% of the votes, there would be a special runoff on April 4, 2017,” Allen says, the date of the Consolidated General Election.
That seat-filler will likely serve for just under a year until that special election. As for Burns’ position as chairman of the Council’s education committee, Vice Chair Ald. Michele Smith (43) will act as the presiding officer until a new Chairman is submitted to and approved by Harris’ Rules Committee, says Corcoran. In addition to a resolution on the new chair, the committee could also name new members to empty committee slots Burns would leave behind. Burns sits on the Budget, Finance, Housing, Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, Transportation, and Workforce Development Committees.
Burns could also put a bow on some legislative leftovers over the next month. He’s co-sponsor of Mayor Emanuel’s proposed tax hike on tobacco and increase of the smoking age in Chicago to 21. Revenue from the hike would go towards CPS summer programs. The proposal is likely to be on this month’s Finance Committee agenda.
Reform to the Office of the Inspector General could also wrap this month. He’s one of the members of the working committee tasked with ironing out kinks to an ordinancethat would merge the Office of the Legislative Inspector General with the Office of the Inspector General. The merger ordinance was deferred and published last month byAld. Carrie Austin (34) and Ald. Ed Burke (14).
While Burns was a co-sponsor of that merger ordinance, he also warned the ordinance could leave aldermen susceptible to political attacks. He’s also listed as a co-sponsor on Ald. Jason Ervin’s (28) ordinance compelling the city’s mental health clinics to adequately staff psychiatrists and enter into managed care contracts.