11th Ward Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot's pick for Ald. Daley Thompson's replacement could make history

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It has been more than a month that the people of Chicago's 11th Ward have been without an alderman, following the corruption conviction of Patrick Daley Thompson.

The 11th Ward covers parts of Bridgeport, Pilsen, and five other neighborhoods. A committee is now vetting more than two dozen applicants for the vacant position.

When Daley Thompson's term as 11th Ward alderman ended abruptly on February 14, it opened the door for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to make history.

"I think this appointment opportunity is really historic because it is going to be the first Asian American Majority Ward and it's a great opportunity for the mayor to really, you know, put her money where her mouth is and say we want an Asian American representing that kind of a historic ward," said Grace Pai, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago.

A total of 27 people have applied for the 11th Ward opening. The list includes seven Asian Americans, and seven others with law enforcement backgrounds, including three current Chicago Police Officers. There are three attorneys, one firefighter and a former newspaper reporter also in the mix.

Also among those vying to represent the 11th Ward is the woman who served as Patrick Daley Thompson's last chief of staff. This ward has been the Daley family stronghold for decades, which normally might have given her a leg up.

"One could argue that you want someone to be able to hit the ground running someone who was already in the ward office and understands how to run the ward," ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington said. "But that's the old argument. That's the way that clout always worked in Chicago, putting someone who was already connected in the job."

Another factor at play, Chinatown is not currently in the 11th Ward, but it will be when a new map is approved. Both of the redistricting proposals include it as part of a new Asian American majority ward.

"It's not just their identity that's important," Pai said. "We want to make sure that there is an Asian American who has progressive values and who will fight for the needs of the Asian American community, especially working class and marginalization Asian Americans and immigrants."

Whoever the mayor appoints must have lived in the 11th ward for at least a year, but if they don't live within whatever the new boundaries are, they won't be eligible to run for the seat next year. The mayor is expected to introduce her pick at next Wednesday's City Council meeting.
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