Sep 2, 2022 - Politics

Lakefront liberals leaving City Council

Illustration of Chicago City Hall with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Ald. Tom Tunney has joined several other alders by not running for re-election in 2023.

Why it matters: The vacancies could dramatically reshape the City Council in 2023.

The intrigue: When we asked whether Tunney plans to run for mayor, his ward staff directed us to newly hired spokesperson Kim Shepherd, who says, "He has made no announcement regarding future plans."

Context: If Tunney runs, he'll join Alds. Roderick Sawyer (6th), Raymond Lopez (15th) and Sophia King (4th) in the crowded field of City Council members bidding for mayor.

  • In Chicago elections, you can't run for both mayor and alderperson.

Yes, but: No member of the City Council has ever been elected mayor.

Between the lines: The startling number of vacancies will put newcomers in charge of significant areas and relationships, especially among the city's "lakefront liberal" communities.

  • Lakeview, Lincoln Park and Hyde Park are made up of predominantly white professionals who have historically constituted a key voting block for several Democratic mayors, including Lori Lightfoot.

What's more: The next election could reshape leadership in these wards and other key parts of the city:

North Side: Along with Tunney, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), Ald. James Cappleman (46th) and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) are all leaving communities with major Chicago institutions.

  • This includes the North Side lakefront, beaches and bike paths.
  • Tunney's 44th ward includes Wrigley Field. He's had public tussles over the Rickettses' land grab and transformation in Wrigleyville.

South Side: The exits of King and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) will change leadership in areas that include the University of Chicago, Jackson Park and the new Obama Library, which has generated fights over displacement and gentrification issues.

Of note: Lightfoot won all the above wards in the 2019 mayoral runoff election.

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