Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent her first full day as mayor meeting behind closed doors with members of her cabinet, and capped it off by announcing a full slate of picks for her cabinet — some of whom will stay on after serving Emanuel administration.
Samantha Fields, who served as former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget director, will be charged with guiding Lightfoot’s agenda through a City Council put on notice that business as usual — and their veto power over projects in their wards — has come to an end as the mayor’s senior advisor for legislative counsel and government affairs.
Fields sailed through her City Council confirmation hearings in the spring of 2017 and won praise for her handling of Emanuel’s election year budget — one that included no tax hikes or fee increases.
Manuel Perez, who managed Lightfoot’s runoff campaign, will serve as the managing deputy director of legislative counsel and governmental affairs, and focus on shepherding the mayor’s agenda through the final weeks of the legislative session in Springfield. That could include changes to a measure that would end mayoral control of the Chicago Public Schools.
Tiffany Sostrin will serve as deputy director of legislative counsel and governmental affairs, charged with overseeing “council relations” and advocating “for legislation on behalf of the mayor’s office. Sostrin will be a familiar face for veteran aldermen, having worked during the Emanuel administration as the chief legislative liaison for the Department of Finance and before that an attorney for the City Council’s Legislative Reference Bureau, led by former Ald. Margaret Laurino (39), where she prepared legislation for aldermen as well as legal guidance.
Lightfoot also filled two newly created positions designed to make good on her promises to prioritize neighborhood — rather than Downtown — development and to tackle the city’s massive shortage of affordable homes.
Marisa Novara, will serve as commissioner of the Department of Housing, which former Mayor Richard M. Daley disbanded in a cost-cutting measure in 2008 and Emanuel resurrected a decade later — before announcing that he would not run for another term as mayor.
While vice president at the Metropolitan Planning Council, Novara helped author a study of the cost of racial segregation and advocated for changes to city law to encourage more affordable housing. Her appointment requires City Council confirmation
Samir Mayekar, will serve as deputy mayor for neighborhood and economic development after working in the Obama White House and at a federal infrastructure finance agency.
Lifghtfoot also moved to replace Brian Bannon as the head of the Chicago Public Library in a repudiation of Emanuel’s leadership of the agency. Lightfoot said she would nominate Andrea Telli to lead the library, which has been under fire from Inspector General Joseph Ferguson for failing to adequately staff its libraries after cuts pushed through in 2011 by Emanuel.
However, six of Emanuel’s highest profile cabinet members will stay in their jobs. They are:
- Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson
- Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson
- City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado
- Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval Carter
- Chicago Park District CEO Michael Kelly
- Chicago Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones
In addition, three high-profile commissioners who departed with Emanuel will be replaced on an interim basis by their deputies:
- Alison Arwady will replace Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita when she steps down June 18 on an interim basis while a national search is conducted for Morita’s replacement.
- Thomas R. Carney will replace former Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld while a search is conducted.
- Eleanor Gorski, the deputy commissioner of planning, historic preservation and sustainability, will replace former Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman while a search is conducted.