A typical day for freshman 7th Ward Alderman Gregory Mitchell starts before sunrise. Between setting up his new ward office and getting acclimated to the City Council, Mitchell says he needs the time, because there is much to do.
“I’m like a perfectionist,” Mitchell joked. “So, I am always not satisfied with the ways things are going. I want to be up and running now.”
Mitchell, 44, a former financial analyst who ran a mostly self-funded campaign, pushed through a crowded field of candidates and defeated incumbent Natashia Holmes during the April runoff. Holmes was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013 to fill the seat vacated by Sandi Jackson after she resigned from the council at the same time her husband, Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was being investigated for tax fraud.
It’s a ward that has seen a lot of turnover. With Mitchell’s recent election, Holmes’ two years in office, and Sandi Jackson’s one-and-a-half terms in the Council, four different aldermen have represented the South Side Ward in the past 10 years. According to Mitchell, this turnover has led to a lack of constituent services. It was the biggest complaint he heard from voters during the campaign. Making it worse, Mitchell charges his predecessor didn’t use any of her allotted $1.3 million dollars of aldermanic menu money.
But as a lifelong resident of the 7th Ward, Mitchell remains unphased and excited for what’s to come.
“I have the canvas that I can work with,” Mitchell said. “I know what we have. I know what we don’t have. I know what we need. I know what we don’t need. So I am ready to set it and get the ball rolling.”
Asked if he plans to run for 7th Ward Committeeman next year, Mitchell responded without hesitation, “Absolutely!”
Citywide Priorities: Like most of his peers in the Council, Mitchell expects the city’s pension debt to be the biggest priority. “I don’t know if this is the elephant in the room. I think the elephant is out. Dealing with the pension. That is something that we are going to dive right into,” Mitchell said, adding that he’ll detail more action items once he settles into his assigned committees.
Local Priorities: “Set up the ward office and let the constituents know where I am located and to have the staff trained up to provide that above and beyond customer service,” Mitchell said he wants to streamline the process and provide a direct line of communication from City Hall to the ward office. Mitchell says he has received a lot of support from the administration, City Clerk’s Office and neighboring Ald. Michelle Harris (8) and former Ald. John Pope (10).
Caucus Alignment: At this point in time, Mitchell is only committed to the Black Caucus. He says he wants to learn more about Council procedures and the issues other aldermen face in their wards before making other allegiances. “I want to see who best represents what I am going through and the things I need to do in the 7th Ward,” Mitchell said. “I am going to start my collaboration with those aldermen that share the same issues that I have and pick their brain.”
Ward Office: 2249 E. 95th Street
Chief of Staff: Former 18th Ward candidate Chuks Onyezia.