Thirteen members of Chicago City Council are leaving, and one alderman says more are still to follow
CHICAGO (CBS) — Labor Day is known as the unofficial kickoff to campaign season – but this particular Labor Day, another member of the Chicago City Council announcer her season has come to an end.
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) said she will not be running for reelection.
“It has been my greatest honor to serve my constituents, friends and neighbors on the southeast side. I am proud and humbled by the responsibility and the trust that has been placed upon me to create positive and long lasting social change within our communities,” Garza wrote in a Facebook post.
Garza, whose ward includes the Hegewich, South Deering, and East Side neighborhoods, has represented the 10th Ward since 2015, when she defeated four-term incumbent John Pope. The ward was once famously the domain of Ald. Ed Vrdolyak.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, Garza’s announcement is the latest entry on a growing list of aldermen who are calling it quits voluntarily.
Her announcement makes a baker’s dozen aldermen who will be leaving office or have already done so since May.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), Ald. James Cappleman (46th), and indicated Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) also plans to retire at the end of their terms next year.
Ald. Michele Smith resigned last month, and Lightfoot is still weighing candidates to replace her. Former Ald. Michael Scott (24th) stepped down in June, and already has been replaced with his sister, Monique. Former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) stepped down in February after he was convicted of federal tax charges, and has been replaced by Nicole Lee.
Ald. George Cardenas (12th) likely will exit before the end of the year if, as expected, he is elected to serve on the Cook County Board of Review.
Three other alderpersons are giving up their City Council seats to launch bids to challenge Lightfoot next year, including Ald. Sophia King (4th), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th).
Kozlov also learned the list is not complete. This will make for the biggest City Council turnover in almost 80 years.
In total, almost a third of the current City Council is leaving as it is.
“Surprisingly, I wasn’t surprised,” Ald. Nick Sposato (38th) said of Garza’s announcement. “I just had a hunch that she wasn’t running again – I have nothing to base it on.”
Sposato said if you look at those who have left or are leaving, most are older City Hall veterans. He believes age and time served are big factors.
“This is a very, very demanding job. People don’t realize the demands of this job,” Sposato said, “and somebody who does it right like Sue – you know, it’s a 70-, 80-hour-a-week job.”
The change means shifting power in the Council, which could signal changes for constituents.
“The new aldermen who get elected – whoever they are – they’re going to be first-term aldermen. They won’t be appointed committee chairmen, for the most part,” said University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor and former alderman Dick Simpson. “So that’s going to be a major change in leadership.”
Sposato believes the exodus is not over. Hey says Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) is also done.
“Reboyras announced Thursday,” Sposato said.
Reboyras was not available for comment Monday night.
Sposato expects even more will follow.
“I still think there could be three to four more people that decide not to run again,” he said.
Might Sposato himself be among the exodus?
“I’m still thinking about it,” he said. “I’m just going to see where my health takes me and take another month to decide on this – and decide if I just want to go through the rigors and the grind of this job – this very demanding job.”
Four other current city council members ran for other elected offices in 2022, but were defeated in the June primary elections, meaning they will stay in their seats on the City Council for now: Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) and Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) both ran for seats as a Cook County